As soon as I saw that Arsène was starting a midfield 3 of Xhaka, Cazorla and Özil, I knew (hoped) we'd be in for a treat. It was a selection that said we want to impose ourselves on this game and Watford will have to think about us rather than the other way around. I can almost hear Arsène's voice now 'we want to play the game we love to play'
In my preview I spoke about the 3-0 victory at their place last season and how in some ways it flattered us. It was a game we had to earn by keeping it tight, riding our luck at times but eventually turning the knife with our superior quality late on.
The game didn't pan out in exactly the same way but it required the same fight and commitment. I tweeted half way through the first half that the most impressive part of our game at that stage was our desire to win back possession. It has been an obvious feature of our pre season and we've continued that into the season. Our pressing seemed far more collective as opposed to Alexis running after it and the others standing around watching.
Watford were not able to get Ighalo and Deeney into the game for that very reason. We had a lot more of the ball and whenever Watford gained possession we forced them into mistakes.
The penalty was a definite penalty even if I didn't know it had been awarded at the time. Not a fan of penalties being stuck low down the middle but I'm a big fan of Arsenal penalties going in so I'll more than take Cazorla's early strike.
The penalty was all about the quality of Mesut Özil. We needed the breakthrough at Leicester City last weekend but missed Mesut's brilliance, this time his left footed floater was heading towards Alexis before the Watford player stupidly lead with his elbow on our forward.
Granit Xhaka's distribution is going to be fun this season. Time and again the Swiss international picked up the ball from deep and pinged perfect passes to our players on the flanks.
I was looking forward to seeing how Xhaka and Özil linked up together but I didn't see much of that. In fact Xhaka to Özil was not even in the top 12 Arsenal passing combinations. Mesut Özil was in fact not on the list at all., but we will see more as Özil gets fitter.
Watford had posed much of a threat until Koscielny sliced a cross right down the throat of Petr Cech. Luckily Cech was alert and made the stop.
Ten minutes before the break we could have scored a wonderful second goal after some excellent footwork and drive from Alexis but his low shot was saved.
I was really impressed with Theo Walcott's contribution to the game. As was the case against Leicester City last week, he continuously chased back and made challenges. His passing was tidy and his movement put Watford under pressure all throughout the game. I have a good feeling about Theo right now, he just needs to continue his desire and hunger, sharpen up and get a goal. Once that happens, I think he can shift the narrative once more. With such quality behind him he can score and assist a lot of goals from the right but we've seen flashes from him before. We need flashes to turn into consistency, especially in his application. If we continue to work on our transitions and Theo stays in the team then he will hurt many teams this season but as always, that depends on fitness so fingers crossed.
Our second goal started after what looked a bad call from the linesman. It looked like a Watford throw on but the decision went our way. Alexis started it off from the left flank cutting inside Watford players and slipping in Özil in space. The ball got to Theo via Bellerin and Theo's bending low cross was perfect and far more difficult than it looked in a crowded penalty box. Alexis squeezed the ball in before it was hooked away.
Minutes later Alexis turned provider with a delicious cross for Özil's head. It was the type of ball we have come to expect from Mesut himself. I'm not entirely sure why Alexis was able to stand wide left and wait for Özil to make that run without a challenge but hey-ho. It was a run that Özil made quite often during the first half. It seemed like a planned move as Alexis spent a decent chuck on time on the left flank rather than the central position.
In the second half we started brightly but dropped off the pace as the second half ticked on. The home side started to get back into the game and cause us a few problems. Watford managed to pull a goal back after we failed to deal with a bouncing ball in the box, so it caused a bit of mentality change for both teams. Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain attempted chips after being in very good positions but both efforts were over cooked.
Arsène's subs were spot on, we had lost the huge amount of energy we showed in the first half so Elneny and Wilshere were added to give our pressing a shot in the arm. It worked, we looked much better after the subs and we looked in control of the game.
Rob Holding was once again top class and it's a real shame that he will more than likely have to miss out after our Mustafi capture.
So three much needed points, a lovely first half performance, two new signings in key areas all but done and dusted? Sounds great to me, now lets hope we can all try and enjoy the season and leave the A4 sheets of paper at home.
Post Match Q&A will be around later at some point (when they decide to hand back the answers)