Arsenal have developed a “winning mentality” under new manager Unai Emery, said defender Rob Holding after their seventh successive victory in all competitions. A 2-0 victory over Watford at Emirates Stadium on Saturday, thanks to two goals in the last nine minutes, secured the Gunners’ fifth league win in a row. They now sit fifth in the table, behind fourth-placed north London rivals Tottenham on goal difference. Watford captain Troy Deeney criticised Arsenal’s lack of desire after their 2-1 defeat at Vicarage Road last season. But on Saturday he faced a more committed Arsenal, who prevented Watford from scoring in the league for the first time this season.
Alex Iwobi, introduced midway through the second half, was the catalyst behind Arsenal’s win. The Nigerian’s driven low ball from the right resulted in Arsenal’s opener, inadvertently turned in by Watford’s Craig Cathcart. Two minutes later Iwobi was involved in a one-two with Alexandre Lacazette, who delivered a low cross for Mesut Ozil to sidefoot home. With the game goalless, Arsenal substitute keeper Bernd Leno made a great one-handed save to deny Deeney, while Isaac Success fired narrowly wide of the far post. Emery made two key tactical decisions against Watford, bringing on Iwobi for Aaron Ramsey and sticking by Lacazette in attack.
Ramsey, who looks to be on his way out of the club, shook his head as he was replaced by Iwobi in the 63rd minute. The Wales international failed to influence the game, while Iwobi added pace to midfield to complement the speed of Arsenal’s front two on the break. It was from two swift attacks that Arsenal broke the deadlock. Petr Cech’s hamstring injury in first-half stoppage time led to the league debut for £19m summer signing Leno. The 26-year-old German produced an exceptional low save to deny Deeney and also produced a great block to stop Andre Gray. Leno might keep hold of the jersey after Emery suggested Cech will be out for two to three weeks.