Just like London buses, you wait forever for one goal to arrive and then two come along at once! As has been the case with many of Arsenal’s Jekyll and Hyde performances in the Premier League this season, a late second half rally from the Gunners secured three points against an unlucky Watford side.
A 2-0 scoreline looks comprehensive on paper but Javi Gracia’s side showcased their ability to defend as well as attack by starting with two strikers upfront. Emery made a host of changes to the second string team that beat Brentford 3-1 in the third round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday, although Bernd Leno made another appearance after Petr Cech was forced off injured towards the end of the first half.
Arsenal’s biggest issue so far this season has been their inability to impose themselves in the first half of games. It was s similar story against Watford who looked the better side in the opening exchanges. However, it was Leno’s save from Troy Deeney in the second half which proved to be the biggest moment of the match for Gracia’s side. Emery had urged his team earlier in the week to focus on honing their new tactical style, based on pressing and passing from the back.
“We want to find our goals in different ways, but also with our tactical style,” said Emery before the game.
“One option is to work in the second action because the opposing team maybe haven't given us the chances [to pass out] because of their pressing. For this reason, we want to continue improving and creating our best performances with different ideas.”
Leadership is being shared across the Arsenal squad and the Gunners were captained by three different players against the Hornets. Cech started as skipper before Aaron Ramsey took the armband from him when he was replaced in the first half. Mesut Ozil then gained the captaincy duties from Arsenal’s soon-to-be out of contract midfielder.
Some have questioned whether it is right for Ramsey to captain a team who have just withdrawn a contract offer for him, and even as the club’s longest serving player it was strange to see him leading the midfield.
The Gunners have not lost a 3pm kick-off at Emirates Stadium since August 2013 and Lacazette’s excellent run which ended in a Craig Cathcart own goal certainly made up for his earlier missed opportunities, including a lobbed effort which went inches wide of Ben Foster’s post. Ozil’s finish to wrap the game up came from Lacazette’s cross and secured the three points – a victory which, on balance, Arsenal were made to work hard for.
Earlier in the afternoon, Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United side lost their second straight game this week against West Ham - following on from their League Cup defeat on Wednesday night to Derby. The Red Devils are in complete crisis right now, with a dressing room split and Mourinho picking fights with numerous figures – including star man Paul Pogba.
Arsenal’s win only added to Mourinho’s misery as Emery’s side climbed to joint-fourth in the table after their seventh straight win in all competitions. The Gunners are now five points ahead of Man Utd, who find themselves languishing in 10th position in what has been their worst start to a league season for almost 30 years.