Arsenal retained the second spot in the Premier League with a 3-0 win away at Watford, with goals from Alexis, Giroud and Ramsey. Watford put up an impressive display in the first half, doing a great job of containing Arsenal, but the Gunners’ class shone through in the second half as they grabbed three goals in the space of eleven minutes to record Arsenal’s fourth away win of the season.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the match.
1. Arsenal have been very impressive away from home
This win over Watford means Arsenal have now won 12 points away from home, their only glitch on their travels coming against Chelsea, under controversial circumstances. Only West Ham United have won more points on the road, with 13 points, but having played another game away from home.
In the past, the Gunners have often had trouble away from home, losing points to smaller teams even after dominating games, with most of these teams sitting deep and not allowing them to play their natural game. But this season, so far, Arsenal have managed to nick all points available against smaller teams from their away matches, and if they keep the trend going, they will surely be in with a major chance at taking the title.
2. Watford Need to Start Scoring More Goals
With this defeat, Watford have failed to score in 5 of their 9 Premier League matches so far. They have the lowest goal tally in the league, having netted the ball only 6 times, but have so far been heavily dependant on Odion Ighalo, who has scored 5 for them so far. They are 14th so far, and if they don’t want to repeat of getting relegated like their previous two stints in the top tier of English football, they need their other attacking players to find their scoring boots.
3. Watford Exposed a Major Weakness in the Arsenal Backline
Arsenal kept a clean sheet as Laurent Koscielny made his return to the Arsenal starting lineup, but things could have turned out very differently for the Gunners had it not been for Petr Cech and some bad finishing by Watford. The Hornets created few chances, but a majority of them came in similar fashion, with long balls played to expose Arsenal’s high defensive line.
Per Mertesacker’s pace, or rather the lack of it, was taken advantage of by Troy Deeney on a couple of occasions, but some good defending from Koscielny saw his cross cleared and Koscielny himself missed an interception, only for Odion Ighalo to scuff his shot. Another Watford attack saw Cech come out of his line to clear, almost handling the ball outside the box in the process, but a better team may have done more damage through this route. But this is a point that other teams will note and try to utilise when they line up against the Gunners.
4. Aaron Ramsey Finally Broke his Goalscoring Duck
Aaron Ramsey’s deflected effort was the Welshman’s first goal in 16 matches for Arsenal. The last time he netted for his club was in April. The goal might have been Arsenal’s third, coming at a time when the result was wrapped up, but it can have crucial consequences for the Gunners.
Throughout the season, Ramsey has crept into good positions and found himself on the receiving end of some great chances, but he has fluffed most of them or seen them saved or blocked by the opposition. This is important for Arsenal, as he offers a threat very different from the directness of Sanchez and Walcott or the physical presence of Olivier Giroud. When teams sit deep against Arsenal, the threat of Sanchez and Walcott gets slightly reduced, but Ramsey’s intelligent movement makes him a hard target to track, adding another dimension to Arsenal’s attack.
Ramsey slowly seems to be settling in his role on the right hand side of Wenger’s lopsided 4-2-3-1, and this goal will, as the Gunners’ faithful will hope, give him the confidence to finish off more of these chances. It only makes it harder for the opposition when a team they are facing has a multitude of attacking threats, and if Ramsey can add to the goalscoring threat that Arsenal pose, it will take some pressure off the likes of Sanchez, Ozil and Walcott, allowing them more space and time as well.
5. Mesut Ozil And Alexis Sanchez Hitting Top Form Together Is Key for Arsenal
Mesut Ozil drove into the box, playing a beautiful one-two with Santi Cazorla, before being tackled, but he managed to roll the ball on to Alexis Sanchez for the opening goal, before neatly cutting the ball back for substitute Olivier Giroud to net Arsenal’s second of the night. While the German playmaker had a quiet first half, he sprung into life in the second half, and finished the match having created 6 chances – more than the entire Watford team combined.
Ozil has now recorded 6 assists in the league, which makes him the joint highest assist maker alongside Manchester City’s Silva, and with the kind of form he is in for club and country, it seems that he is playing his best football since making the move to North London. Ozil, who recently turned 27, also created two more goals for Germany against Georgia in their EURO 2016 qualifier, helping them secure a spot in the competition that’s going to be held in France next summer
Alexis Sanchez is also in top form, having scored 10 goals in his last 6 appearances for club and country. His neat near post finish also makes him joint second with Manchester City’s Aguero in the Premier League scoring charts, both 3 goals behind Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy.
Arsene Wenger will be pleased that two of his best players are hitting form together as Arsenal hope to keep the pressure on Manchester City at the top of the table.