Arsenal caught Watford on the counter several times in the second half, and the Hornets fell behind just after the hour mark. Capoue went down on the edge of the Gunners box with Watford committed forward, but the referee was unmoved and Arsenal broke through Cazorla and Ozil.
Watford’s previous games had pointed clearly towards the difficulty of breaking them down and it was soon apparent that a proud record of having not conceded in the Premier League from open play was no fluke. Flores’ system is already well honed and their collective work-rate was evident as Arsenal took a predictable hold on possession.
Watford approached their four previous home games with such caution that a combined total of two goals were scored in what became a 360-minute improvised symphony of sterility. They played a different tune here and Vicarage Road duly witnessed more attacking action in the opening half-hour than in the previous two months combined. Aaron Ramsey, who clipped the bar after running on to Sánchez’s sublime chipped pass, came closest to scoring but the home side had their chances, with the previously deadeye Odion Ighalo, scorer of their last five Premier League goals, missing the most glaring after half an hour when he was played in by Ikechi Anya. But, having been so conservative against some less daunting opponents, this seemed like a dangerous occasion to start taking risks.
“Oh look, it’s Arsenal!” you think, in the same way you might if you passed, say, Dermot O’Leary in the street. Except I get the impression that Dermot O’Leary is a reasonably good egg who might not mind if you smiled and said hello*, whereas Arsenal have long since transcended those kind of everyday niceties and would undoubtedly consider any acknowledgement of your existence beneath them. They’re very much, you know, in the cloud. They’re a football club in the same way that U2 at Wembley is a rock’n’roll gig…that is, very much so or not at all, depending on your point of view. (Go on, have a guess.) Except that they aren’t U2, obviously. They’re some b-list stadium atrocity, overwrought and overblown. They’re Muse.