Alex Iwobi continued to breathe life into Arsenal’s Premier League title challenge, scoring one goal and setting up another in a convincing 4-0 win over Watford at Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
Handed a second successive league start after impressing in the 2-0 victory at Everton before the international break, Iwobi set up Alexis Sanchez’s fourth-minute opener before doubling the home side’s lead with a first-time finish.
Hector Bellerin added a third goal early in the second half, the full-back’s left-footed effort taking a heavy deflection to beat the busy Heurelho Gomes, and Theo Walcott rounded off the scoring as Arsene Wenger’s side cut the deficit to leaders Leicester City – who host Southampton on Sunday – down to eight points.
Watford ended their opponents’ hopes of a third successive FA Cup triumph with a 2-1 victory at the same ground last month, yet looked to have their upcoming semi-final with Crystal Palace on their minds.
Arsenal had scored just six goals in their last eight home games in all competitions, but they managed two in the first half against opponents who came into the fixture having won only two of their last 13 league outings.
The impressive Iwobi created the first as Arsenal made a perfect start, floating over a cross from the left that Sanchez met with a firm header at the far post. Although Gomes kept out the initial effort, the Chilean tucked away the rebound to register his first league goal at the Emirates since October 4.
The same pair combined to get Arsenal’s second in the 38th minute, albeit their roles were reversed.
Sanchez provided the assist for his team-mate, making a clever run in behind Watford’s back line on the right flank before cutting back a low cross that Iwobi swept home from a position near the penalty spot.
Sandwiched in between the strikes was a touching round of applause in the seventh minute for former Arsenal player David Rocastle in the week that marked the 15th anniversary of his death.
It took Arsenal all of three minutes to increase the gap to Waford in the second half, full-back Bellerin the beneficiary of a lucky break off Ben Watson as his volley somehow found a way to the net through a crowded penalty area.
Iwobi was denied his second, and Arsenal’s fourth, by the woodwork before being withdrawn to a standing ovation in the 74th minute.
However, another Arsenal goal did arrive before the final whistle, Joel Campbell’s clever work on the left presenting an easy tap-in for fellow substitute Walcott.
Wenger had stated before the game that eight straight wins would see Arsenal have “more than a chance” of winning the title – they can only hope their remaining seven fixtures are as comfortable as this one was.