By Walter Broeckx
Arsenal team that started: Cech, Bellerin, Holding, Koscielny, Monreal, Cazorla, Xhaka, Walcott, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alexis.
On the beach: Ospina, Chambers, Gibbs, Coquelin, Elneny, Wilshere, Giroud
So a first start for Özil this season after the euro’s. A midfield combination of Xhaka, Santi and Özil for the first time. Giroud on the bench as not declared completely fit by Wenger.
Not much happening in the opening minutes. Watford camping in front of their own penalty area from the start and Arsenal moving the ball around trying to find openings but not really finding them. Özil with a great cross to Alexis and the Watford defender jumped in his back and elbowed him at the back of his head. After a short moment of hesitation ref Friend pointed to the spot and gave the penalty. The defender not even near the ball so correct decision. Santi to take and GOAL!!!! 0-1 to The Arsenal after 9 minutes. The keeper going for a corner and Santi just putting it in the middle.
Prodl then going in the book for bringing Theo down who stole the ball away from him and might have been away. Arsenal bossing the match further but not getting to clear chances. Xhaka with a lovely cross ball to Santi but no further danger from this attack. An attack from Arsenal on the left flank ends up with the ball in front of Theo who shoots from an impossible angle but the Watford keeper punches it away. Watford on the counter and Kos deflecting a cross but Cech alert and punching it clear. Then Deeny almost at the end of a cross but his effort goes well wide.
Watford finally going forward now and pushing Arsenal back a bit mostly by battling a bit harder on the ball. Arsenal a bit under pressure when they can’t really get the ball away out of their own penalty area but the ref calls a foul on a defender in the end. Xhaka with a great ball to Alexis but the Chilean can’t control the ball and then adjudged to have fouled Prodl in the end. Kabasele for Watford at the end of a corner but he heads it wide. Arsenal with a great attack on the left and after a 1-2 between Alexis and Özil the first has a shot but the keeper can save it with his foot.
An excellent decision from the assistant when Amrabat pulls the shirt of Koscielny and gives the foul against the attacker. Alexis and Özil again combining and this time the German sees his shot saved by the Watford keeper. Arsenal again with a great attack starting with Alexis on the flank giving it to Özil who feeds it in the path of Bellerin who puts it wide to Theo. Theo puts in an inviting cross in front of the goal and Alexis at the end of it. GOAL!!!! 0-2 to the Arsenal after 40 minutes. A moment of hesitation though as Alexis didn’t make full contact with the ball and the ball was taking a long time before going over the line. But a quick look at the goal line technology clock confirming the goal. Replay showed it was well over the goal line the defender hooked it away.
Arsenal continue to push forward but a cross from Bellerin can’t find an Arsenal player at the end. Then Walcott with a shot after a long ball to him but again the Watford keeper with a good save. But no holding Arsenal as in the extra time Xhaka again with a quality ball to The Ox. He played it to Alexis on the left flank, he waited a second, saw Özil making the run in the middle, an excellent cross to the German world champion and he headed it in. GOAL!!!! 0-3 to The Arsenal after 45 minutes. That was of course the half time score.
Arsenal with a great attack after good work from Walcott but nobody at the end of this cross. Should have been given offside by the way so lucky nothing came from it. Wouldn’t want to score an invalid goal. Arsenal with the dangerous attacks in the opening minutes of the second half. Bellerin with a great run on the flank but Alexis couldnet get on the end of his low cross. Capoue with a shot from outside the penalty area but comfortable save from Cech. Watford then finding an opening on the flank and as the cross cannot be cleared the ball bounces around in the Arsenal penalty area and in the end Pereyra can push it over the line. 1-3 after 57 minutes.
Deeny getting a yellow card for a late challenge on Monreal coming in with his foot high against the foot of Monreal. Özil feeding it to Theo but his lob goes over the Watford goal. Lots of small fouls for the moment so not free flowing football. Arsenal on the counter after a free kick for Watford Bellerin gives it to The Ox his lob also goes over the Watford goal. Watford at the other end after a shot a good save from Cech who follows it up with two double saves.
After 68 minutes Özil goes off and Jack Wilshere comes on. The Ox also goes off and Elneny comes in his place. Xhaka almost sends Alexis away but the Watford keeper first on the ball far out of his goal. Ighalo at the other end with a overhead kick but it goes over. Monreal gets injured when Ighalo came down and clipped his ankle. Gibbs came on in his place after 74 minutes. Amrabat gets booked for dissent when he is replaced. Probably saying a bit too much when going off.
Elneny with a 1-2 with a floored Walcott but the attack runs dead after a promising start with a possible 3 attackers against 2 defenders in favour of Arsenal. Behrami scuffs his shot for Watford. Behrami then gets in the book when he loses the ball to Walcott and has to foul him to prevent an Arsenal attack. Alexis steals the ball but he can’t find a teammate and decides to go for the lob but this time the Watford keeper can catch the lob. Let me tell you that Theo was really working his socks off both in attack and helping out in defence. Holebas goes in the book for a kick out of frustration in the closing minutes.
Ref gives 5 minutes of extra time. I don’t know where they came from to be honest as I couldn’t recall any real injury time. Wilshere goes in the book to please the Watford fans it seems. Kos I don’t know if you touched the ball with your hand but please don’t go to a ball like that in the closing minutes of a match. Not even when 1-3 up.
Watford trying to get another goal but apart from hopeful crosses not really dangerous situations in front of Cech goal. Jack being clever and running the ball to the corner flag and draw a foul close to the Watford goal.
We have seen a match with two faces. The first face was the brilliant Arsenal with maestro Özil pulling the strings. When after one hour Özil ran out of steam we saw the battling Arsenal. Xhaka was very impressive in the battling role behind the more attacking midfielders and showing a great pass in his feet.
A first win for Arsenal and so the PL can really start and we take on next week…. oh blimey… it’s nick the players and get them injured time again…. FFS…