A convincing 4-0 victory over Watford means that Arsenal’s unlikely title tilt remains alive for yet another week.
Alex Iwobi has arrived
Having set pulses alight during pre-season with a masterful performance against Lyon in the Emirates Cup, 19-year-old Alex Iwobi has certain taken his time to announce himself on the big stage. Given his first start against Barcelona in the Champions League a few weeks back, Iwobi clearly impressed Arsene Wenger enough to retain his place in Arsenal’s starting XI. Such has been his meteoric rise that established internationals Theo Walcott,Joel Campbell and even Oliver Giroud have to be content with a place on the bench.
The newphew of Nigeria legend Jay-Jay Okocha, Iowbi had an excellent outing a fortnight ago against Everton where he scored a brilliant second goal near half time that effectively sealed the game. He continued in the same vein against Watford in just his second league start. After just 5 minutes, Iwobi spotted Alexis Sanchez pull off his marker at the far post. Without hesitation, he sent a laser guided cross onto the head of his Chilean team mate who bundled to ball home on his second attempt.
A brilliant passing move on the 38 minute saw Francis Coquelin find Sanchez in a yard of space. Bursting into the box, Sanchez still had the presence of mind to look up and spot the onrushing Iowbi. With one confident swipe of his right boot later and Arsenal were two nil up and cruising.
With 50 minutes on the clock, Iwobi nearly doubled his tally for the day. Receiving the ball with the box, Iwobi paused to consider his options as the red shirts flooded into the box. Not liking the options available, Iwobi cut the ball back to his left foot before smashing a sweet striker against the crossbar with Watford keeper Heurelho Gomes a bystander.
Replaced by Walcott in the 73rd minute, Iwobi left the field to resounding applause from the Emirates Stadium. Say what you will about Arsene Wenger but Iowbi clearly proves that his ability to spot and develop young talents is still spot on even after two decades at the top.
Watford fail to show up
Having beaten the Gunners 2-1 a few weeks back in the FA Cup, Watford manager Quique Flores must be pulling his hair out watching his side go through the motions against Arsenal. 11 points clear of the relegation zone with their Premier League status pretty much secured, the Hornets just did not seem hungry or motivated enough to pose any problems to an Arsenal side eager for revenge.
With Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney struggling up front, the goals have dried up for Watford. Despite several chances on the break, Watford looked devoid of ideas in the final third, often picking the wrong pass. Worst still was the fact that the Watford players seem to think it was a friendly match the manner they played, giving Arsenal the freedom of the park.
It is no surprise that they were punished.
While Arsenal generally dominate the ball against most teams, they enjoyed an astounding 70% possession against a lifeless Watford team. Indeed, the chants of ‘ole’ were already heard even before the hour mark as Arsenal passed the ball around with no pressure from the away side. On more than one occassion, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil would trade consecutive passes with each other while the men in black just stood and watched.
While Watford havea FA Cup semifinal to look forward to next month, they desperately need to sort themselves out before their season limps to an inglorious end.
Arsenal stay in the title race
It was a game that they could not afford to drop any points and Arsenal delivered.
The early goal from Sanchez probably settled any nerves as Arsenal grew in confidence as the game progressed. When Iwobi netted their second goal, the game was effectively over as a contest.
3 minutes into the second half and Hector Bellerin enjoyed a huge slice of fortune after his tame left footed drive deflected off Watford midfielder Ben Watson and into the goal with Gomes wrong footed. Chances came and went until injury time where a long pass from Ozil sent substitute Campbell running down the flank. With Watford scrambling back to defend, Campbell picked out Walcott amongst a number sprawling Watford defenders for the Englishman to tap the ball in from two yards.
8 points behind leaders Leicester with 7 games to go, Arsenal’s faint hopes for their first title since their Invincibles campaign in 2003/04 remains alive for another week.