Petr Cech saved a penalty as he celebrated his 200th Premier League clean sheet in a convincing win at Emirates Stadium.
Shkodran Mustafi headed the opener inside 10 minutes – our 1,000th home goal in Premier League history – but in truth a resilient Watford side weren't killed off until Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan assisted each other for goals in the second half.
In between those two strikes from our January signings, Cech saved a penalty for the first time as an Arsenal player, keeping out Troy Deeney's effort to the delight of the home fans.
It was an open game from the very first exchanges. Aubameyang was picked out by a perfect Mesut Ozil throughball inside in the opening three minutes. The striker was well clear of the last man, bearing down on goal, but the advancing Orestis Karnezis saved well when one on one.
The visitors' stay of execution proved short-lived. Arsenal had started brightly and were rewarded on eight minutes, when Mustafi headed home Mesut Ozil's inswinging free-kick.
As well as it being our 1,000th home Premier League goal, it was Mesut Ozil's 50th assist in the Premier League. He reached the half century in 141 appearances - that's faster than any other player in the competition's history.
Petr Cech was chasing a landmark of his own - his 200th Premier League clean sheet - and he made a fantastic save to prevent Abdoulaye Doucoure from equalising soon after Mustafi's opener.
We continued to create chances too. Aubameyang couldn't quite get enough on Sead Kolasinac's cross at the far post, while Alex Iwobi fired over from inside the area.
Cech palmed away a Richarlison free-kick just before Ozil so nearly doubled our advantage on the half hour. He danced his way into the box, but Karnezis saved well with his legs, just when it appeared as though the German had done the hard work.
Cech again saved well from Richarlison as the half drew to a close. The visitors were well in the game at the break, with the Gunners guilty of wasting several decent openings.
Watford remained the more dangerous team in the first part of the second half too. We had to soak up a fair bit of pressure before Aubameyang made it 2-0.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan dissected the Watford defence with a fantastic pass, and his former Borussia Dortmund team-mate raced onto the ball, rounded the keeper and tucked home for his third Gunners goal.
In truth the goal was somewhat against the run of play, and just moments later Watford had the opportunity to get back into the game when Ainsley Maitland-Niles gave away a penalty for a foul on Roberto Pereyra.
Deeney stepped up but Cech dived to his right to pull off a fantastic save - it was the 16th penalty he had faced for Arsenal.
Deeney had been the subject of some baying from the Emirates crowd all afternoon following his comments at the end of the Vicarage Road clash back in October, and it's fair to say the home fans enjoyed the moment.
Mkhitaryan had a great shout of his own penalty as the atmosphere inside the stadium lifted. It was turned down, but soon enough the Armenian was celebrating.
Ozil was released by a searching Rob Holding pass, his cutback fell to Aubameyang who in turn picked out Mkhitaryan to stroke home inside the area.
Danny Welbeck and Jack Wilshere were introduced late on – the former drew another good save from Karnezis – as we returned to winning ways in the league.
how it happened
WHAT IT MEANS
We stay in sixth-place, eight points behind fifth-placed Chelsea, and ended a run of three consecutive league defeats.
We host AC Milan on Thursday evening in the second leg of the Europa League Round of 16 tie, already with a healthy 2-0 lead from Italy. Then we have more than two weeks without a game, resuming at the start of April with a home match against Stoke City.
Shkodran Mustafi's eighth minute header was our 1,000th Premier League goal in home matches. Here are some of the stats from the milestone:
- Our first Premier League home goal was scored by Steve Bould in a 4-2 defeat to Norwich in August 1992.
- This was Arsenal's 496th home Premier League game, meaning the scoring rate is 2.02 per game.
- Our 1,000 goals have been scored by exactly 100 different players (not including own goals).
- In the same period we have scored 751 away goals in the Premier League
- Thierry Henry scored 120 of the 1,000 goals, Ian Wright is second with 57.
- We are the second side to reach 1,000 home goals in the competition, after Manchester United.
- 543 goals came at Highbury, and 457 so far at Emirates Stadium.
Copyright 2024 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.