Arsenal notched their first Premier League win since early February as they cruised past Watford at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Arsene Wenger’s men were in complete control of the match throughout as Shkodran Mustafi opened the scoring in the eighth minute with a header from a free-kick. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang doubled the lead with a cool finish just before the hour-mark.
Watford were gifted a chance to drag themselves back into the clash as Roberto Pereyra was scythed down by Ainsely Maitland-Niles in the box but Petr Cech denied Troy Deeney from the spot. Henrikh Mkhitaryan found the net in the 77th minute to secure the three points as Arsenal consolidated sixth in the Premier League table.
Gunners fire early on
Having not won at the Emirates Stadium since a 5-1 hammering of Everton in early February, the Gunners required a fast start on Sunday, and that is exactly what they got as Mesut Ozil picked out Mustafi from a free-kick. The German defender finished well with a powerful header that flew past Orestis Karnezis and into the Watford net.
The Hornets were however a threat following the Gunners’ opening strike as Roberto Pereyra picked out Richarlison. The Brazilian picked out Doucoure with the Frenchman’s low shot being well-stopped by Petr Čech.
Despite that, the hosts continued to dominate and could have been two-ahead had it not been for a poor pass from Sead Kolašinac, leaving Aubameyang stretching and sending his shot wide of goal.
Chances at both ends
The frantic start in the capital continued as Pereyra gave Arsenal a huge let-off. The ex-Juventus man latched onto the ball as Richarlison’s shot was poorly parried by Cech. The Argentine somehow blazed the ball over the bar when unchallenged.
They were soon almost made to pay for that miss as Mesut Ozil raced through on-goal from Mohamed Elneny’s pass but was thwarted by a clever stop from Karnezis.
Cech was also called into action as Richarlison capitalised on a defensive mistake. His header was well saved as the first-half drew to a close.
Watford start strong but Aubameyang stings
In contrast to the opening period, it was Watford who begun the second-half in a more positive fashion. Kiko Femenia found space in the box and volleyed towards goal but a great block from Rob Holding preserved the Gunners’ lead.
It was a counter-attack that saw Aubameyang stretch Arsenal’s advantage. The Gabon striker was played through by former Borussia Dortmund teammate, Mkhitaryan, and skipped around the goalkeeper to finish into the empty net.
Watford could have found a foothold only three minutes later through Troy Deeney after Javi Gracia’s men were awarded a spot-kick. Pereyra fell to floor in the penalty area following a challenge from Maitland-Niles but Watford skipper, Deeney was denied by Cech, who saved his first penalty for the Gunners.
Arsenal secure victory through Mkhitaryan
There was no doubt of the result in the 77th minute and the Dortmund connection paid dividends yet again. Aubameyang collected Ozil’s centre and looked for Mkhitaryan in the area. The Armenian finished well to notch only his second goal for the Gunners.
Substitute, Danny Welbeck almost grabbed a fourth but his powerful drive was halted by Karnezis. Arsenal though had to do with three as they finally got back to winning ways in the Premier League.
Whilst Arsenal were clearly not at their best against Watford, they clearly deserved their victory. It was their clinical finishing that earned them the advantage against the Hornets. Wenger will be satisfied that they are back to winning ways, especially keeping a clean sheet – something they have not managed in league play since mid-December.
Wenger’s men remain sixth in the Premier League ahead of their next Premier League clash with Stoke City.
Meanwhile, Javi Gracia will be irritated that they could not find a foothold at the Emirates. Although, the promising start to the second-half does bode well. The Hornets stay tenth, nine points clear of the relegation zone.
Arsenal: Cech (8); Kolašinac (7), Holding (6), Mustafi (7) (Chambers (6), 73′), Maitland-Niles (6); Xhaka (6), Elneny (7); Iwobi (7) (Welbeck (6), 66′), Ozil (8), Mkhitaryan (7) (Wilshere (N/A), 78′); Aubameyang (7).
Watford: Karnezis (6); Janmaat (7) (Britos (N/A), 80′), Prodl (6), Mariappa (5), Holebas (6); Doucoure (7), Capoue (6), Femenia (6) (Hughes (6), 62′); Richarlison (7), Pereyra (6) (Okaka (6), 67′), Deeney (6).
Goals: Mustafi (8′), Aubameyang (59′), Mkhitaryan (77′)
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Yellow Cards: Mustafi (55′), Holebas (66′), Xhaka (90′)
Red Cards: N/A
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