Arsenal got their season on track today with an assured 3-1 victory over struggling Watford at Vicarage Road today.
For the large parts of the game, the Gunners were dominant, with Roberto Pereyra’s consolation and Nacho Monreal’s injury the only negatives in what was an otherwise fantastic day.
Granit Xhaka partnered Santi Cazorla in midfield whilst Olivier Giroud remained on the bench, as Mesut Ozil made his much anticipated return to the starting eleven.
So, what players stood out?
[tie_slide] Santi Cazorla
The Spaniard was back to his brilliant best today alongside Swiss recruit Granit Xhaka in midfield. Cazorla controlled the midfield and was influential in countless moves in his zone. An early penalty from the magician set the ball rolling, and Cazorla dominated throughout the game.
The former Villareal man is not widely known as the tough tackling midfielder able to break up play with breathtaking interceptions, but under Wenger Cazorla has blossomed beautifully as an overall footballer. His injury-plagued season in 2015/16 dearly cost Arsenal, but if they can keep the 31-year-old fit a title challenge is not unthinkable.
— afcstuff (@afcstuff) 27 August 2016
[tie_slide] Alexis Sanchez
The Chilean struggled leading the line against Leicester but has shown his resilience and drive to succeed with a stunning performance against the Hornets.
Sanchez won the first-half penalty, scored the second and assisted the third goal as he ran rampant against Walter Mazzarri’s struggling outfit.
A fine display from one of the Premier League’s top players.
[tie_slide] Mesut Ozil
Ah, the German just oozes class when he is on top of his game. Ozil drew criticism in the second half of last season due to the number of assists he had contributed drying up, but this was the fault of Arsenal’s attackers.
Statistically, Ozil made approximately as many chances for his team-mates as he had done in the opening months of the past campaign, and broke the record for the number of chances created by a single player in one season.
Today, the playmaker brought the best out of Sanchez and helped his team to a win with a stunning finish to put the Gunners 3-0 up. It’s great to have him back.
[tie_slide] Granit Xhaka
Well, well, well. Is it too much to say that Xhaka is exactly the midfielder that Arsenal have been crying out for? What a wonderful display from the ex-Borussia Monchengladbach captain.
The only slight criticism we would have is the Swiss international’s over-eagerness to dive into challenges impulsively, but at 23 that can be corrected by patient coaching.
His pivot combination with Cazorla was outstanding, and Arsenal fans are cautiously optimistic that the pair can have a successful relationship in midfield this season.
#Xhaka vs Watford:
2 chances created
5 ball recoveries
4 successful tackles
2/2 Aerial duels
— Jase The GÖÖNER (@JaseTheGooner) 27 August 2016