7th Heaven for Arsenal

 Life for Arsenal and its fans is good at the moment. Saturdays win over Watford made it our 5th win in a row in the Premier League, and our 7th win on the spin in all competitions. Not to mention, it was our second clean sheet of the season, which makes me think we’re doing something right at least.

Unfortunately,
I had other responsibilities to attend to this weekend so I couldn’t watch the
second half live with the rest of the world, but I recorded it and watched it a
bit later on when I had the chance. While I was busy, I noticed that none of my
friends were texting me, which was a good sign because they would normally rub
it in my face when Arsenal fuck up. But that wasn’t the case as I got home and
confidently switched on the TV and watched the rest of the game, knowing that
we either won or came away with a draw.

Unai
Emery’s team selection on the day was almost unchanged from the team that
started against Everton last weekend, with the exception being Sokratis who was
left out as he was still recovering from an injury he picked up in that game.
Rob Holding stepped up and took his place, which I was quite comfortable with
as I’ve admired the shifts he’s been putting in for the team so far. One thing
that bothered me, and still does, is the fact that Özil is being asked to
play out wide every now and then, and Ramsey being given the freedom to play in
that number 10 role from time to time. Maybe Emery is giving Ramsey what he
wants, to help with the contract negotiations, or something… I don’t know. But what
I do know is that it’s not working as well as what Emery had hoped. Frankly I
was surprised Iwobi didn’t start instead of Ramsey, as the Nigerian has been
playing really really well for us recently. But I’ll discuss him a bit later
on.

 The first
half of this game wasn’t great, but at least it wasn’t as bad as last weekends
first half. There were a couple of chances for us to score, one which was
presented beautifully to Lacazette, who chipped the keeper but saw the ball
roll well wide of the post. Lacazette was also involved in an early penalty
claim which should have seen us been awarded a penalty, but he decided to try stay
on his feet, and for that, the ref played advantage and gave a goal kick after
Lacazette’s shot hit the side netting. The striker was clearly put off from the
contact he received prior to the shot, and personally I think the ref should
have brought it back and called it a penalty after the missed attempt. On the
other hand, had Lacazette gone to ground after feeling the contact, the ref
would have given the penalty straight away. You’ve got to admire his honesty
though, but at the same time there will be games where we need our strikers to
go down and win penalties, because it may be the only chances we get. I’m not
talking about blatantly diving like Dele Alli, but if you’re tripped and feel
the contact, you may as well go down and see if the decision goes your way.
That’s just my opinion, and don’t get me wrong… I love it when players are
honest, but honesty won’t always win you games.

This
game was pretty stretched, with each team attacking the other instead of one
team sitting back and defending. This made for quite an entertaining half to
watch as it was spaced out and the play was flowing nicely. The passing from
Arsenal was much better but it was difficult to find a way past a stubborn
Watford side who had a lot more physicality than us on the day. Unfortunately
the half ended with an injury to Petr Cech, who pulled his hamstring while
taking a goal kick, but this meant that Bernd Leno finally had the chance to
make his Premier League debut and make a case as to why he should be selected
instead of the veteran when he eventually returns from his injury. The captains
armband was then handed to Ramsey as Cech came off, but there was no more time
for the half to carry on as the whistle was blown shortly after the ball was
back in play.

Watford
came out much stronger than they were in the first half and forced Leno into a
brilliant save quite early on in the second half, denying Troy “Cajones” Deeney
from opening the scoring. Leno handled himself really well during the half,
catching as well as punching the ball out numerous times and showing us that
he’s not only good with his feet, but also with his hands. Ramsey was then
taken off later and replaced by Alex Iwobi and the armband was handed to
Mesut Özil, making him our 3rd captain for the day. Now, I wasn’t a fan of
Iwobi until very recently. In fact I always thought that he didn’t fit into the
Wenger system and that he wasn’t ready for the Arsenal team just yet… but under
Emery he’s been showing a lot of promise and giving us a different edge. He’s
also giving us width and a burst of energy that we need sometimes, so for now
it seems like he fits the Emery system much better.

Watford had a really good spell of
play, which was worrying me a bit because they were really putting us under a
lot of pressure. One of Watfords subs, Success, had a very similar chance to
Lacazettes first half chance, beating Holding for pace and chipping it over
Leno. But fortunately for us, and ironically for him, he was unsuccessful, as
the ball brushed the outside of the post and went out for a goal kick. Shortly
after that, Dat Guy Welbz came on for Aubameyang, who wasn’t having the best of
games. The Gabonese international wasn’t as influential as we’d hoped and was
replaced by the Englishman, who has had a bit of form recently, scoring 2 goals
in midweek against Brentford. That meant that Arsenal had width on the right
with Iwobi and on the left with Welbeck, which paid off not long after he came
on. Following a free kick conceded by Cathcart on Lacazette, the ball was
played wide to Iwobi, who fizzed a cross into the box looking for Lacazette.
Lacazette didn’t manage to get a touch on it, but Cathcart, who was marking him
closely unfortunately put the ball into his own net. Finally! 1-0 to the
Arsenal after 80 minutes of play.

But like I said in my last post: one goal can definitely change a game,
and 3 minutes later the Gunners made it 2-0, with Welbeck and Iwobi
collaborating with Lacazette, who put a beautiful ball into the box for
Captain Özil to score with that classic finish of his. Great play! There
wasn’t to be any more action after that goal, as Watford basically gave up on
the chase and allowed Arsenal to dominate possession by passing it around at
the back until the final whistle blew.

I thought
Rob Holding had an exceptional game and he was my man of the match. When
Sokratis comes back, I really hope that he replaces Mustafi, because seriously…
Mustafi was pissing me off on Saturday, giving away needless free kicks and
putting the pressure back on us. We don’t need that kind of shit! I thought
Xhaka and Bellerin also played superbly and admired Lacazette’s movement and
contribution on the day. Torreira I felt had a rough time, and was often being
shunted off the ball too easily.

Overall it was a great weekend! That win meant that we moved up to 5th place in the league and are flying under the radar on our quest to get back into the top 4. Arsenal are the hottest team in form at the moment, winning our last 5 games, and winning all our games in September which surely means that Emery deserves Manager of the Month, right!? Up next is Qarabag in the Europa League on Thursday, then we head to Craven Cottage after that to face Fulham on Sunday. It’s a fantastic opportunity to grab 2 wins and keep the run going! Come on you Gunners!