Arsenal capped an encouraging week with a 3-0 win over Watford at the Emirates on Sunday.
Goals from Shkodran Mustafi, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan gave the Gunners a routine win which may ease the scrutiny on Arsene Wenger for a few days at least.
Troy Deeney missed a penalty for Watford, who enjoyed good periods of play without creating many chances of note.
Here’s what we learned from the game:
1. Arsenal’s New Boys Hold the Key to Their Future
Many Arsenal players clearly aren’t good enough for a top four side – hell, Alex Iwobi doesn’t even look good enough for a Premier League side. But two players who definitely are up to standard are Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Mkhitaryan’s incisive through ball found Aubameyang for Arsenal’s second, and the Gabon international returned the favour for the third goal, squaring for Mkhitaryan to sidefoot home. If these two signings are to be the legacy that Arsene Wenger leaves Arsenal with, his successor will be very grateful.
2. Watford Are Safe and They Know it
With 36 points, Watford probably still need one more win to be certain of their Premier League future, but they know they’re safe. That much was evident in the slack marking for Mustafi’s opening goal, as no Hornets defender got tight enough to prevent the German’s bullet header.
The Hornets did improve and ended the first half on top, but the lack of urgency throughout was indicative of a side whose minds are already on the beach. Javi Gracia will have to make it clear to his players that they are fighting for their futures in order to keep them focused.
3. Arsenal Fans Are Voting With Their Feet
The attendance at the Emirates wasn’t quite as poor as against Manchester City the other week, but that was on an extremely cold and treacherous Thursday evening. On a clear Sunday afternoon, there can be only one reason why Arsenal supporters missed this one: they are taking a stand against the current regime.
It’s not a bad plan. Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke seems very out-of-touch with the desires of the club’s supporters – as long as they line his wallet, he has no reason to change anything. If Gunners fans are finally hitting the American where it hurts, he will have to think about taking action after years of being a passive observer.
4. Petr Cech is a Premier League Legend
The parable of Arsene Wenger is one that Petr Cech would do well to heed. Once a legend, Wenger has overstayed his welcome at Arsenal by so long that his legacy will be forever tarnished.
But Cech probably still has time to bow out gracefully. The Arsenal keeper has endured a tough season, particularly in recent weeks, but in becoming the first goalkeeper to keep 200 Premier League clean sheets he reminded everyone of the player that he once was, and the legend that he still is.
To reach that magic number with a penalty save makes it all the sweeter, considering that Cech hadn’t saved a spot-kick since 2011. If he chooses this summer to sign off from English football, he will do so with the best wishes of every true football fan.