It doesn't go all the way towards making me forget about the insipid loss to this same opposition in the quarterfinal of the FA Cup (especially since Crystal Palace in the semifinal is largely a written invitation to the final), but it was nice to see the team see off this lot with a thorough demolition - the likes of which we haven't seen much off this campaign.
The vagaries of the MTA system, combined with my now-longer commute, meant that I was 20 minutes late in getting to the pub. By that point, Alexis Sanchez had already opened the scoring, knocking how own rebounds past that bigmouth Gomes in the Watford net.
Alex Iwobi assisted on that first one, and unsurprisingly he scored himself soon after. This time, the Chilean turned provider, his run down the right taking defenders with him. He spotted the Nigerian's late run into the area, and Iwobi made no mistake in sweeping the ball imperiously past the keeper.
I have to tell you, I know he's only 19 and all, but I think we have a real player on our hands here. Sometimes kids like this can plateau after a certain point, but if he puts his head down and keeps working hard, he could be our best academy product since...Tony Adams, perhaps? All of that is admittedly premature, but he was fantastic on the day. Tireless running, incisive passing, effective movement - he was the total package.
Such was Arsenal's domination that Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores subbed off Etienne Capoue in the first half, and removed Odion Ighalo at halftime. None of it worked, however. The home side rampaged over their counterparts right up until the last goal went in. Hector Bellerin ended up scoring off of a deflection, and Theo Walcott came on as a sub to score the last one.
Maybe this will come off as a bit ungrateful, but this wasn't one you'll remember on your deathbed. The domination was so total that for large stretches, many of us were concentrating more on our pints than anything else. What I do remember was that besides Iwobi and Sanchez, we looked especially strong in the center of the park. Nothing got by Francis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny, the latter especially was one that had a storming afternoon. Besides his positioning and defending, he was the focal point in turning defense to attack. He's another one to watch in the next few years, I think.
Anyway, with the report being this late, I figured I'd gloss over the match itself (you've all seen highlights and analysis all over the place by now), and talk more about what's upcoming. The rest of our fixtures are as follows:
West Ham (A)
Crystal Palace (H)
West Bromwich Albion (H)
Norwich City (H)
Manchester City (A)
Aston Villa (H)
There are some tricky games in there - West Ham and Man City especially - but it's not exactly a murderer's row. The probable best-case scenario, 5 wins and 2 draws, would give us 17 more points for a season total of 75. Oddly enough, that would be exactly our number from last season, which saw us finish 12 behind the champions. A doomier scenario of W3 L2 D2 would reduce that by 6 to 71, which might not do more than assure of the typical 4th-Place Trophy.
Leicester City, at the time of writing the clear favorites with 69 points, need only 2 more wins to match the point total of my assumed best-case scenario above. The title chase for us is over, kids. But, the main question is can the Foxes prevent the nightmare scenario of the nearest and dearest winning the title? Their fixtures are:
West Ham (H)
Manchester United (A)
I don't even know what to make of it, myself. On one hand, it *should* be three absolute bankers, a home match against a decent but beatable Hammers side, and away trips against store-brand versions of United and Chelsea. On the other, Sunderland and Swansea are fighting for their lives, you never know what United version you're going to get, and Chelsea have shown some recent signs of life. Still, I'd probably put this down (barring injury to Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy or Kasper Schmeichel) as something like W3 L2 D1. That is 13 points, or 82 in total. That would have been 5 behind Chelsea's pace from last season.
The Scum, on the other hand, have this left to play out:
Manchester United (H)
West Bromwich Albion (H)
Here, there's a lot of the same uncertainty that Leicester has. Which United will show up? Will losing to the Red Devils set this lot off on their customary tailspin? Will Southampton be mentally on the beach by this time? Will Newcastle still technically be alive by then?
Personally, I think they do lose to United, draw with Stoke and Chelsea, and win the others. That would give them 11 more points, or 73 points in total. In this scenario, Leicester have a bit more room for error than you'd normally think, and it's only 2 points beyond what I called my "doomier" scenario above.
Most importantly, it means St. Totteringham's Day is still very much on the table. If we can't win the title, and since we're out of all the cups, it's really all we have left, isn't it?
Man of the Match: Alex Iwobi really needs his own song.
Sean Swift is a staff writer at The Modern Gooner, a board member of Arsenal NYC, and keeps forgetting to do this bit at the end so that you know who writes this drivel.