Watford vs Arsenal match report: Gunners cruise to victory at Vicarage Road to ease pressure on Arsene Wenger

Watford 1  Arsenal 3: Santi Cazorla, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil all scored within the first half to give the Gunners all three points

Brendan McLoughlin
Saturday 27 August 2016 14:47
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Arsenal's players celebrate following Santi Cazorla's goal
Arsenal's players celebrate following Santi Cazorla's goal

Stiffer tests, no doubt, lie in wait but, at least for Arsene Wenger, Arsenal's season is finally up and running.

Three first-half goals from Santi Cazorla, from the penalty spot, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil – making his first start of the campaign – ended the Gunners' wait for a first victory of the season.

There was more positive news afterwards with manager Wenger confirming deals for £50m-plus duo Shkodran Mustafi (from Valencia) and Lucas Perez from (Deportivo La Coruna) were imminent after they passed their medicals.

"They will integrate into the team now and we will help them join squad," he said. "We had to work very hard to get signings done. We have not got any plans for anyone else now.”

Watford's own wait for a victory, meanwhile, goes on.

Their defending in the opening 45 minutes was as much a concern as the promise provided by debutant Roberto Pereyra, whose crisp finish 12 minutes after coming on as a substitute proved only to be a consolation.

Now three games without a victory, the storm clouds are already gathering over Walter Mazzarri.

Wenger knows that feeling of pressure better than most and the requirement for a victory here after one point from their opening two matches should not be underestimated.

This, then, was just the performance and outcome required heading into the international break and their new arrivals should go a step further towards placating fans left frustrated by what, with four points now on the board from their opening three matches, remains a sluggish start.

Mesut Ozil wheels away after scoring Arsenal's third

Wenger added: "I believe we shot ourselves in the foot in first game (4-3 defeat to Liverpool) and were under huge pressure. We had two difficult away games (against Leicester and Watford) but today I believe we had a good solid performance.

“We had a good cushion at half time. At the moment we are not completely there physically and could see that in second half."

Within nine minutes they were ahead, albeit with a helping hand from their opponents.

An exquisite curling cross from Ozil picked out Sanchez inside the area, however he was bundled to the floor by Nordin Amrabat, who inadvertently clattered his opponent in the head – leaving him in a daze.

Kevin Friend’s pause before finally pointing to the spot infuriated the home support yet, in reality, such a clumsy challenge had left him with little choice.

Cazorla’s penalty was coolly dispatched, sending Heurelho Gomes the wrong way, for what was his first Gunners goal since February 2015.

Having only returned on the final day of last season following a six-month lay-off, that Cazorla particularly caught the eye with his penetrative passing will have been viewed as a major plus by Wenger.

Arsenal had to withstand a period of pressure from the home team, with Cech sparing Laurent Koscielny’s blushes following a sliced clearance, while Troy Deeney fired the wrong side of the left post.

Yet five minutes before the interval they grasped firm control, Sanchez capitalising on the Hornets’ failure to cut out Theo Walcott’s pinpoint cross to the back post.

Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring Arsenal's second goal

And a miserable half for Mazzari’s team was compounded seconds before the interval.

It was all too easy as Sanchez, wide on the left, was given time to pick out the unchecked run of Ozil, who powered home a bullet header.

Game over? It appeared so.

But the Watford manager responded by introducing new signing Pereyra upon resumption and the former Juventus player needed just 11 minutes to mark his debut with a goal.

It was a classy finish too as the Argentine fired crisply inside the left post after the ball had pinballed around the Arsenal area. Such clinical finishing could prove the difference between survival and relegation for the Hornets this term.

Mazzarri said: "A lot of players are new so we have to prepare later. The organisational things are still missing and two starting players were out last minute and this really didn’t help."

Watford (3-5-2): Gomes 5; Kaboul 5, Prodl 5, Kabasele 5 (Janmaat 52, 6); Amrabat 5 (Success 77), Guedioura 6 (Pereyra 45, 7), Capoue 7, Behrami 6, Holebas 6; Deeney 6, Ighalo 6.

Subs not used: Pantilimon, Zuniga, Watson, Sinclair.

Booked: Prodl, Amrabat, Behrami, Holebas, Ighalo, Deeney

Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Cech 8, Bellerin 7, Holding 7, Koscielny 7, Monreal 6 (Gibbs 74); Xhaka 7, Cazorla 8; Walcott 7, Ozil 7 (Wilshere 70), Oxlade-Chamberlain 6 (Elneny 70); Sanchez 7

Subs not used: Ospina, Chambers, Coquelin, Giroud

Booked: Wilshere

Referee: Kevin Friend

Attendance: 20,545

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