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Arsenal 2 Watford 0: The giddiness of the unknown

Arsenal 2 Watford 0
From Goodplaya at the Emirates

PERHAPS it was all in my imagination. But on my first visit to the Arsenal since May, I was struck by the crowd reaction when Mesut Ozil scored our second. I’m not saying it was hug thy neighbour and fall into the row in front time. But there was a brief giddiness that I can’t really remember sensing for a long time. Suddenly, we’ve won five on the spin and for now at least we can dream a little.

For sure, the squad doesn’t look comparable to that of others. But we can dream just a bit because gone is the sense that whatever positive we do, we’ll soon come a cropper in exactly the same way we did the season before and the season before that and the season before that.

I absolutely love it when a game is hard to call and I love it even more when a game is still hard to call after 70 minutes. Watford today were bloody good. But after a draw and loss in their last two games, they reminded me of what we were like in the final games of 2007-08 post that draw at Birmingham. Essentially, you can be doing everything right and exactly as you did when you were all conquering but the ball no longer runs for you.

Unai Emery’s substitutions were fascinating to observe: Iwobi for Ramsey and then Welbeck for Aubameyang. A world away from what Wenger would have done. Torreira and Xhaka would probably have made way for Welbeck and Mkhitaryan. It turned out Iwobi and Welbeck would make decisive contributions to both goals but it would be absurd to pretend that Watford weren’t the most likely winners until our opener.

But in a way that is what made it all the sweeter. This wasn’t so much a lucky win as one that was eked out thanks to some sharp play when it mattered.

Anyway, it was good to be back and it’s nice not knowing quite what to expect.

6 Responses to “Arsenal 2 Watford 0: The giddiness of the unknown”

  1. Elvis says:

    It’s so good to have decisive substitutions after 60 minutes as well, rather than having to wait for the obligatory 70 before anything can change.

    Arsenal fans have become so unaccustomed to innovation and novelty that the slightest things can feel like gettin a new car.

  2. slc gunner says:

    On the positive side, we keep on winning despite some very mediocre performances. But a win is a win and 5 out of 7 in the league puts us only 4 behind. Change was needed and we have certainly seen that in many aspects of our play and the club’s operations. There is plenty of room for further improvement.

    On the negative side, several players have not played well: Aubameyang, Ozil, Ramsey in particular. Defensively, we’re giving up too many chances. Mustafi still doesn’t convince. Sokratis has been decent if not majorly tested – jury is still out. Right now, I would pick Holding and Sokratis until such time as Koscielny returns.

  3. PD says:

    Still a long way to go but I’m happy with Emery’s work so far. We’re still far too open defensively & we’re not that fluent going forward yet but there are definite positives.

    Biggest one (by far) is the mental side. Arsene’s sides the last few seasons you just knew would fall away when things got tough. We’ve eked out wins the last while without playing great….and even the losses against City/Chelsea….2-0 down relatively early in both – you know that could easily have ended up 5-0 or 6-0 in seasons past….

    As Elvis said making changes based on what’s actually happening in the game as opposed to making pre-planned changes at 70 minutes feels fantastic when it should really have been the norm.

    I think we could sneak the top 4. If Arsene had stayed the chances of that were zero. Onwards & upwards hopefully !

  4. Elvis says:

    At times the football under Arsene was sublime but even in the glory years of 2002-04 he was limited tactically and very rarely turned a game with substitutions or formation changes. That is something I am looking forward to with Emery, even if we have to become accustomed to winning ugly a bit more. Introducing Iwobi early was just the job on Saturday. He has improved as a player under Emery already.

  5. slc gunner says:

    Best performance yet. And without Ozil…interesting. The Ramsey goal was outstanding, and I’m not just talking about the finish. Fulham aren’t great – nonetheless I thought we were more solid all round. Still a few dodgy moments playing the ball out from the back, but otherwise really good. And you have to love Torreira.

  6. MDP says:

    So much to love about how this team are developing. Emery is rotating this group of players with mastery in a way that is so refreshing to see with Welbeck, Holding and Iwobi now looking like fully fledged, important members of this squad. A 4-4-2 formation was it yesterday? Tantalising with the strikers we have at our disposal. We’re starting to see what a different style, ethos and approach can do at the club.

    I keep thinking the bubble will burst and it may well do with the defence still far from perfect but things are looking so much better and progressive. 12 months ago we were still persevering with the likes of Theo, Coquelin and Giroud but we now simply have players better suited. Still a lot to do but a chance for top 4 and a cup seems realistic. I think Emery quite fancies the Europa League but it could mean facing one of Chelsea or Spurs (sitting 3rd in their CL group) if we do need to progress. Anyway great optimism as we head into the International break…

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