On Sunday an ever-improving Arsenal won 1-0 against Watford in a game of ugliness and of a scrappy nature but an Arsenal previously accused of meekness were battle-hardened and won in a manner required of a team in the Premier League.
Despite the narrow score line, Arsenal had most of the possession with 61% compared to Watford’s 39%, a characteristic trait of Arsenal who tend to have greater usage and enjoyment of the ball when at home such is the nature of their expansive play.
Furthermore, they also had 14 shots, 6 of which were target which showed that they were threatening in their attacking play but lacked the ruthlessness their performance deserved. They had a goal by Bukayo Saka disallowed in the 8th minute which served yet another fast start by a team that have over the last few weeks, become well practiced in them.
The fact that Watford had a mere 1 shot on target shows that Arsenal once again demonstrated defensive solidity but also that Watford struggled to show attacking menace and were instead preoccupied with the containing of the Arsenal attack. Watford, under Claudio Ranieri, will have to improve on this as they sit in 17th and are only two points above the relegation zone having not scored in their last two games.
As for Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal, it is yet another victory and is a signifier that they have improved and that the first international break came at the right time after a torrid start. They now look busy and purposeful epitomized by Emile Smith Rowe who against Watford, displayed attacking nous and ingenuity. He scored the winner through initiative and was a constant and persisting threat, qualities that have earned him a call up to England.
It was a game whereby frustration could have been the buzzword but instead, Arsenal displayed their mettle whilst Watford rued their negative set-up and delayed entry into an attacking style. This was the greatest contrast between the two sides that were for large parts, evenly matched but youthful fearlessness won it in the end for the Gunners.