Feature

Arsenal v Watford: Four things we noticed

Arsenal celebrate their opener against Watford

We made it five Premier League wins in succession on Saturday, as we defeated Watford 2-0 at Emirates Stadium.

A composed finish from Mesut Ozil and a Craig Cathcart own goal helped us to secure all three points in the second half - but what did we learn from the game? 

ARSENAL TOO NARROW

For much of the afternoon Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette, Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka were all occupying similar positions, in the first half especially, and we barely got in behind the well-drilled Watford back four. The average position map from the opening 45 minutes (below) also shows that Aubameyang was having to drop deep in an attempt to get into the game. He took just 10 touches in the first half, and was eventually replaced by Danny Welbeck in the closing stages.

But it was the introduction of Alex Iwobi on 63 minutes which did most to ignite Arsenal's forward play, and the Nigerian was heavily involved in both goals, the first coming after the youngster got away on the right flank, stretching the play and forcing the own goal from Craig Cathcart.

First half average positions - Watford

HOLDING THE FORT

Since stepping into the side for the FC Vorskla game 10 days ago, Rob Holding has barely put a foot wrong. Pressed into Premier League action as well when Sokratis was injured against Everton, he played in each of our last four games, helping the side to our first two clean sheets of the season.

Against Watford he had to be on his mettle for the full 90 minutes, against the physical presence of Troy Deeney especially, but his highlight was a superb sliding block to deny Isaac Success in the second half with the score still 0-0.

As well as that crucial block he made seven clearances, three interceptions and nine recoveries.

Sokratis has now returned to full training, but on this form he could struggle to dislodge Holding from the starting lineup.

Rob Holding against Watford

LENO STAKES HIS CLAIM

Another man who played a big part in our second successive clean sheet was goalkeeper Bernd Leno. He was given very little warning of making his Premier League debut, replacing the injured Petr Cech just before half-time.

Within five minutes of the restart the German had made a superb stop to keep out Deeney's goalbound effort, diving low to his left and turning the shot round the post. He made two further saves, as well as looking to keep the ball moving from the back, in an encouraging display against a side who looked to put him under pressure at all times.

02:07

'The club is like a family and I love this'


WINNING UGLY

This victory made it seven wins in a row, but not for the first time this season, the Gunners ground out the victory, and the result was in the balance going into the final 10 minutes.

Arsenal didn't create a great deal against Watford, and mustered only nine shots in the whole 90 minutes, but the ability to win ugly has long since proved to be a valuable commodity in the Premier League.

After the Everton game last week Petr Cech spoke about the importance of 'digging deep when you are not playing completely well.'

That's just what Arsenal did here. We are yet to lead at the interval in the Premier League this season, but our second-half performances and desire have produced five straight league wins, taking us up to fifth. We are the only side to have taken maximum points from our last five games.

There's no doubt there is more to come from this Arsenal side, especially as an attacking force, and that is an enticing prospect.

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