Arsenal 2 Watford 0
Cathcart og 80, Ozil 83

There were a lot of unknowns for Arsenal going into the current Premier League campaign. What was known however was that after more than two decades at the helm, the club’s most successful manager Arsene Wenger was stepping aside for the relatively unknown Unai Emery. Further unknown was how Arsenal would play under the former Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain head coach, and also how his new charges would react to his arrival.

Wenger was known as a win with style kind of manager. Not for him was a ground out result, no. If the Gunners were winning they would always seek to add to their tally even if that meant sacrificing the defensive discipline to maybe concede a leveller or worse. Of course there was the sheer brilliance of the Wenger way which gave us the Invincibles of 2003-04, and a trophy haul of three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups adding to his legacy.

With Wenger’s sudden departure however, one thing was certain according to many experts. Arsenal should expect short term pain, and it would take Emery at least three transfer windows to get things right. With an opening day home loss to Champions Manchester City, followed by a consecutive loss at Chelsea, Arsenal it seemed would struggle this season.

Petr Cech was tasked with playing out from the back, something he has never had to do in his career. Matters gradually began to improve however when Arsenal beat West Ham 3-1 in August having initially conceded a goal to Marko Arnautovic. The Hammers could count themselves unlucky, but on the other hand, that turnaround might have been the bit of luck Emery needed. Premier League wins at Cardiff and Newcastle followed with the Gunners then eventually seeing off Everton despite having been given the run around by Richarlison in particular.

On Saturday, Watford presented another tricky proposition for the Gunners. But having seen Troy Deeney, Andre Gray and substitute can Isaac Success go close, Arsenal scored twice in the last nine minutes as a Craig Cathcart own goal and Mesut Özil put the Hornets to the sword. It was a gritty tough no nonsense type of win, symbolised by the defensive heroics of Rob Holding in particular.

Emery must be credited with bringing on Alex Iwobi for the ineffective Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck for the tiring Pierre-Emerick Aubameyamg. Iwobi fizzed a cross from the right which Cathcart diverted past his keeper Ben Foster under pressure from Lacazette. Minutes later, the Nigeria midfielder took possession after good work from Welbeck and Lacazette in the build up to find Özil to place home from ten yards out.

Minutes before the break, and with Petr Cech injured with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, Emery was forced to give Bernd Leno his Premier League debut. With the game at 0-0, the German was brilliant in denying Deeney low to his left and later standing up to Gray to keep the scores level. And that bit of luck was there again when Success raced down on Leno, only to hit the outside of his upright and away for a goal kick.

Calm and mostly composed, Emery watched on the side lines. Although earlier he and the majority of the 60,000 plus in the Emirates stadium agonised when Lacazette robbed Cathcart and then having chipped Foster, saw his effort go wide of the post. Emery however had faith, describing that even with time running out he was thinking was positively.

” I wanted to win! My idea is to change small details on the pitch to win. Every player is very important, but we need players, when they are in the match, to be hungry to help the team. I think today, every player, starting with Leno – our performance with Petr Cech was very high and today, and with Leno also. He is working every day for his moment to arrive so that he’s okay to help us and today he did that.

“Also, I think Danny (Welbeck) and Alex Iwobi went inside and helped us push with their quality and pushing. I’m very happy for the team, for the squad. Each match is very important for us to win, to get minutes, to take responsibility, confidence and continue creating our idea and our style. We need to work to continue what we’re doing,” said the Spaniard.

Emery will be aware that since his summer arrival, it would be difficult to get his philosophy across initially, and we have seen that at times. His players have stated however that they have bought into his philosophy, his system and are now witnessing the fruits of their labour.

Arsenal are once again a team willing to fight for the cause, accepting that there will be difficult moments. Rather than left alone to figure things out for themselves, Emery is there, animating, supporting, while recognising when he has to adjust to the needs of the game as we saw here.

Despite seven consecutive wins in all competitions however , it my be too early to make any early conclusions on Emery’s tenure. One thing that’s for sure however, is that Emery appears to be on track to make an early mark at the Emirates.