Arsenal continued its several-year run of making new arrivals to the Premier League feel unwelcome, dispatching the Hornets of Watford 3-0 today in its first match of the '15-'16 season against a promoted side.
Arsenal looked confident out of the gate, but once Watford weathered the initial rush of red-and-white ball-advancing, looked respectable and kept the match to a scoreless draw through halftime. The first half included a heart-in-mouth moment in which Petr Cech ran past his area and into both Per Mertesacker (who was handling a threat just fine on his own) and Watford striker Troy Deeney. To paraphrase one of our match thread commenters, that's not how you sweeper keep.
The second half was much better though -- Arsenal built on its 63 percent first-half possession with pace and precise passing, plenty of it in the Watford half. In the 62nd minute, Mesut Özil charged into the box, and as he was firing on goal from the penalty spot, was clearly up-ended by a sliding Watford player, but before referee Mike Jones could blow the whistle and point to the spot, and this may shock you, Alexis Sanchez was there to carom the rebound into the net.
Six minutes later, the just-subbed-in Olivier Giroud found himself on the end of a pretty Özil pass from the right wing and sent a shot into the top of the net to make it 2-0.
Then, six minutes after that, Hector Bellerin made a fantastic run into the box -- something he'd done pretty much at will all day -- and found a waiting Aaron Ramsey. Ramsey, shaking off the memory of a terrible first-half miss, chipped in for his first goal of the '15-16 campaign and a commanding 3-0 lead.
Watford only had feeble responses the rest of the match; in fact, the best chance in the final fifteen minutes was on a careening Alexis run in which he bounced off the charging goalie -- no penalty called, by the way -- but could not control the rebound, and was taken off shortly after that since it's not legal to wrap a player in bubble wrap.