By Michael Cantillon
Arsenal have a team for most occasions, Per Mertesacker’s lack of pace is a concern and other things we learned from Watford 0 Arsenal 3.
Wenger’s team lack only a killer up front
There is so much to admire about Arsene Wenger’s side. They have pace, creativity, resilience and an excellent blend of youth and experience. Moreover, in Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Petr Cech, they have three players who would walk into virtually every side in the world. Despite another useful Theo Walcott display up front, and despite substitute Olivier Giroud putting the match to bed with the second goal, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Arsenal’s achilles heel is their absence of an elite striker. A penalty box killer. If they had Robert Lewandowski up front they would win the Premier League.
Arsenal can win ugly
The scoreline was convincing but the match was far from a one-sided affair and for much of the contest Arsenal looked distinctly average. In the first half they were very lethargic in possession and up until Sanchez opened the scoring, tapping in after a counter-attack, the Gunners had barely threatened. When Olivier Giroud added a second after Mesut Ozil had intelligently cut the ball back, the game was killed off but it was an unconvincing performance by Arsenal on the whole. This will not unduly bother Wenger. Arsenal were ruthless and a result like this only enhances their title-challenging credentials.
Etienne Capoue looks a shrewd purchase
Lethargic, clumsy and lazy looking at Spurs, the big Frenchman has performed completely differently since signing for Watford. During the first-half against Arsenal, Capoue bossed midfield: hassling the Arsenal players, making powerful runs forward and keeping possession tidily as the Hornets more than held their own. He tired in the second-half, as many of his team-mates did, but his performance will encourage Watford fans that they could have a midfield general on their hands should he maintain the appetite he showed today and develop some consistency.
Deeney and Ighalo look a good combination
Though the result did not go the way Quique Flores would have wanted it to, he must have been pleased by some of the problems the Watford front two caused the Arsenal back-line. Skipper Deeney has yet to hit the net this season but he worked his socks off and terrorised Per Mertesacker, whose lack of pace was badly exposed on a number of occasions. Ighalo has proved Watford’s major goal source this season, scoring five goals in eight games. The two Watford attackers linked up beautifully, especially in the first-half, with Deeney’s strength and power complimenting Ighalo’s pace and nous. They certainly look a promising combination.
Per Mertesacker’s lack of pace should be a real concern
Without Laurent Koscielny to cover Mertesacker, Watford would almost certainly have taken the lead in this game and could even have gone on to win the match. Such was the frequency with which Deeney kept turning and beating the big German for pace, both down the channels and even through the middle of the pitch, alarm bells should be ringing among the Arsenal coaching staff. On one occasion Koscielny had to intervene when Deeney looked certain to pick out Ighalo after getting the better of Mertesacker down the left, while another time Petr Cech came out floundering after Capoue had clipped a ball over the top, as Mertesacker dithered. His defensive frailty, specifically in terms of his lack of pace, should be a concern.
By Michael Cantillon