Ozil on target as Gunners finally fire
A goal from Mesut Ozil on his first start of the campaign rounded off a much-needed win for Arsenal as they secured a comfortable 3-1 Premier League triumph at Watford.
Santi Cazorla, from the penalty spot, Alexis Sanchez and Ozil were all on target to put the Gunners in total command by the interval.
A 57th-minute debut goal from Hornets substitute Roberto Pereyra gave Walter Mazzari’s side hope, yet ultimately it proved in vain as their wait for a maiden win of their own continues –- placing their manager under the microscope even at this stage.
The pressure had been on Wenger and his side too heading into the weekend after perfect starts from both Manchester clubs had left them playing catch-up.
This, then, was just the performance and outcome required heading into the international break.
The imminent arrivals of £50m-plus duo Shkodran Mustafi (from Valencia) and Lucas Perez (from Deportivo La Coruna) should go a step further towards placating fans.
Within nine minutes at Vicarage Road they were ahead, albeit with a helping hand from their opponents.
An exquisite curling cross from Ozil picked out Sanchez inside the area. 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.
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.
It was Watford who ended the Gunners’ hopes of a third successive FA Cup last season and they soon demonstrated they could again cause their opponents problems.
Laurent Koscielny had goalkeeper Petr Cech to thank for a fine reaction save to palm away his own defender’s sliced clearance following Amrabat’s whipped cross.
Moments later Troy Deeney fired the wrong side of the left post after being fed by Jose Holebas.
Having withstood that pressure, the visitors took control and more of their trademark hypnotic passing almost carved out a second.
Ozil and Sanchez exchanged a slick one-two which sent the Chile international through yet, with the angle tight, Gomes managed to fingertip his shot away.
The former Barcelona player made no mistake at the second time of asking, however, capitalising on the Hornets’ failure to cut out Theo Walcott’s pinpoint cross to the back post five minutes before half-time.
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.
Mazzarri responded by introducing new signing Pereyra, 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.
Watford finished strongly and Arsenal had the outstanding Cech to thank with a fine double save to deny first Etienne Capoue and then Odion Ighalo.