Baring in mind that Mesut Ozil has been frequently criticized in recent times and the primary criticism of Ozil is that he does not do enough to seize control of games, and he lacks hunger and drive, it was a cruel twist of fate that it was his inability to finish a golden opportunity that swung this match away from Arsenal.
The German midfielder was clean through on goal, with almost enough time to stop and brush the hair out of his eyes, Ozil had the most welcoming of opportunities to extend the lead given to his side by an unlikely Per Mertesacker header in the first half of the game.
He fluffed it, Heurelho Gomes saved, and barely a minute later Watford was awarded a controversial penalty which Troy Deeney converted. Not long after that, the ball fell invitingly to Tom Cleverley and Arsenal had magicked three points into none.
Ozil’s omission in the starting line up was an indication of Wenger’s reluctance to change his winning formula and also possibly rely less on him and Alexis as its becoming clearer that they will be on their way out of the club by January. Since the 4-0 humbling at Liverpool, Arsenal have won five out of their last six matches, with Ozil playing in just seven minutes of those games.
The most notable change in Arsene Wenger’s side was the return of Mertesacker to the heart of the defence. Although he has played in other competitions, with a man-of-the-match performance in the FA Cup final last season, the German had not started a Premier League game for 532 days before this.
The first real chance fell to Watford. Abdoulaye Doucoure twisted his way down the left wing and flashed a cross for Roberto Pereyra, who could not quite contort himself and glance his close-range header home.
Still, this was encouraging for Silva, who refused to give his players a moment of peace from the touchline as he cajoled and clapped and nagged his way through the first half.
His most dangerous player, as has been the case for much of this season, was the direct Richarlison on the left, who nearly burst into Arsenal box but was thwarted by a fine challenge from Hector Bellerin.
Then Mertesacker ambled up for Granit Xhaka’s corner, held off the helpless Cleverley a curious choice to mark the 6ft 6in German and powered his header home for a goal that was scarcely deserved but ruthlessly finished.
Now the Arsenal machine was whirring, and Bellerin missed the target when he should have made it two before the break.
Watford’s half-time instructions seemed to be to move further up the pitch. Richarlison soon had their first effort, cutting in but curling wide, but the more aggressive approach almost immediately left holes at the back.
Iwobi, in particular, took pleasure from raiding those spaces, and both he and Welbeck could have been clean through if it Lacazette had not botched the final pass. It was enough to prompt a change of shape from Silva, who threw Deeney into the fray after an hour.
Ozil then had his big moment, and choked. Richarlison was almost immediately sent flying in the box, and Deeney stepped up to make it 1-1.
Watford had plenty of chances to win it before they finally did. Etienne Capoue’s deflected effort spun against the post and then Richarlison volleyed over from close range.
The golden moment eventually arrived following a goal mouth scramble that was finally, emphatically, finished by Cleverley.
Under both Walter Mazzarri and and Quique Sánchez Flores, Watford had spells of good form before falling away, ultimately costing both managers their jobs.
But this current crop looks better than any other side over the past two seasons. Marco Silva has them well-organised at both ends of the pitch their focus should certainly be on a top half finish rather than avoiding the drop.