Arsene Wenger hailed Arsenal’s “total commitment” at Watford – and revealed he came very close to resting opening goalscorer Alexis Sanchez for the clash.
The Gunners, who had beaten Manchester United before the international break, had to come through a stern physical examination from a well-organised Hornets side proving hard to beat at home since their return to the Barclays Premier League.
Ultimately, though, the technical superiority of Wenger’s men proved enough as they secured a 3-0 win.
Sanchez, back from jet-setting with Chile, netted after a breakaway on 62 minutes, with substitute Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey keeping Arsenal in second place, just two points behind leaders Manchester City, and giving them the perfect platform ahead of next week’s Champions League showdown against Bayern Munich.
Wenger said: “To beat Watford you have to be completely committed to the game because we faced a team that was well organised and knew exactly what they wanted to do.
“They were very physical in the challenge and very strong in the challenges and very direct. These three things together, it took us a while to get on top of that.
“In the second half, the fatigue coming in, Watford came in less in the challenges and we got the ball quicker in transition and were much more dangerous.
“When we scored the first goal, I like the fact we continued to attack and got a convincing win.”
Sanchez netted his 10th goal in six appearances for club and country.
Wenger, though, had been tempted to give the industrious former Barcelona frontman a breather, having only touched down back in London late on Thursday afternoon.
“I was. Yesterday in the training session he looked quite sharp and the medical people told me he has no problem at all then I thought I would test if he is ready and if he was not ready I would take him out,” said Wenger.
“But sometimes it is easier to start the game and take the players off than when you go into the game a little bit tired because you go with the game so I decided to go for that.”
Wenger added: “Every player hates not playing, but as well you have periods as a player when you are on a scoring moment then sometimes the flow can be disturbed. That is why I leave him in.”
Arsenal will now quickly turn attentions to getting their European campaign off and running, following successive defeats.
Wenger said: “Obviously there is no obvious reason to change completely the team. Maybe one or two I do not know yet. We will have to see how everybody recovers.
“I could rest a little bit (Mesut) Ozil and Sanchez and we have of course to put pace into this game and play against a big team.
“We know we have proved ourselves in the Champions League and we want to make something special against Bayern Munich as it is the only way we can keep in the race (for qualification).
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