Arsenal got back to their best on Saturday against Watford in a 4-0 demolition that could easily have been more. They revived their slim title hopes with not just that win, but the performance. We look at three major talking points from that game.
1 Alex Iwobi is destined for the top:
If a spectator that haven’t seen Arsenal play this season had come to watch the game, he’d probably have been thinking he saw a young superstar Wenger recently signed for a huge fee wreaking havoc on Watford’s defence. But no, it was a 19-year-old academy graduate who was just making his second league start.
Iwobi was outrightly the Man of the match, displaying some intelligence far above his age. He combined well with his fellow attackers resulting in a goal, an assist and an effort that struck the bar.
At the beginning of the season, this young attacker looked like he was just one more product churned out from the academy to be in an around the first team before being loaned out and eventually shipped out. But on Saturday he had already become a full Nigerian international, and was starting his second league game, to earn the gunners just their second win in ten games, the first of which was against Everton where he made his first start and scored his first goal. Iwobi had steady and rapidly progressed over the season and had blended well, and when the team ran out of steam and ideas at the tail end of the season, he was there to take his chance and invigorate the team and give the club hope, not only for the run in but for the future.
2 Arsenal can still win the title:
Of the top three teams, Arsenal has the easiest run in fixtures, needing Leicester and Tottenham to lose or draw three or four games out of the remaining eight games while also winning their whole eight games, as Wenger said before the game. As possible as this sounds looking at the fixtures, the big question has been, can Arsenal win their next eight games? That question was answered on Saturday against Watford.
The ruthlessness with which they dispatched their opponents for the second consecutive game was a perfect reminder of the quality Wenger had finally assembled. A squad made up of established world class stars, hugely talented youngsters and hungry players seeking to prove themselves, was the perfect mix that was needed to demolish both Everton and Watford after initially giving Barcelona a run for their money. Arsenal has been known in recent times as a team who turns on the winning streaks at the end of the season when they have a season to save. It might come in handy this time if they can go on a winning streak till the end of the season. On account of their display against Watford, it is a huge possibility.
3 The curse of the Captain’s band:
In recent years, Arsenal’s captains have quickly gone from important players in the team to squad players for one reason or the other and subsequently leave the club. Thomas Vermelen lost his place in the starting line up to injuries and the very impressive partnership of Mertasacker and Koscielny, he subsequently left to Barcelona. Mikel Arteta was handed the Captain’s band after a season where he was a very vital player to the team, but soon after becoming Captain, he lost form and injuries set in, then Coquelin’s emergence sealed his fate. He is set to leave the club at the end of the season. The cursed band was handed over to Mertesacker, and today he is a squad player, having sat on the bench in the last three games due to the growing impressive partnership between Koscielny and Gabriel. With two comfortable clean sheets already in the bag, its hard seeing that pairing changed anytime soon, and the curse continues….