Arsenal returned to winning ways in the Premier League after defeating Watford 3-0 at the Emirates Stadium, this afternoon.
The Gunners’ evening commenced with Mustafi picking up Arsenal’s 1,000th Premier League goal, as the hosts took a 1-0 lead into half-time.
Second-half strikes from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan rounded off the score, with Petr Čech’s first penalty save for the North London outfit, as well as his 200th clean sheet, also decorating Arsenal’s display.
In Laurent Koscielny’s absence, Arsène Wenger called on Rob Holding to partner Mustafi at the heart of defence, meanwhile the likes of Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Mohamed Elneny and Alex Iwobi also found their way into the starting line-up.
Mustafi was able to provide the start Arsenal craved for in the 8th minute, heading Mesut Özil’s free-kick back across goal from inside the box to put his team a goal up.
The Gunners eyed an early second, unlocked by Elneny’s pass through to Sead Kolasinac on the left-hand side of the byline, but the latter would end up over-hitting his cross somewhat for the lurking Aubameyang at the back-post.
Watford replied with a goal-bound Richarlison free-kick in 25th minute, with Roberto Pereyra the first to react to the rebound before letting Arsenal off the hook when slicing his attempt over.
No less than a minute later, the hosts were up at the other end through neat combinations, as Özil found himself one-on-one before a trailing Orestis Karnezis leg did just enough to stop the German from scoring deep inside the box.
The Hornets saved their best football for the final period of the first-half, but little reward enabled Arsenal to hold on to their 1-0 lead through to the break.
Watford positivity resumed in the second period, but Arsenal promised to undo the visitors’ appetite with a second, as Henrikh Mkhitaryan offered Aubameyang the chance to round the goalkeeper and make it 2-0 in the 59th minute.
Javi Gracia’s side could’ve pulled a goal back as soon as the 62nd minute via Troy Deeney’s spot-kick, but Petr Čech’s penalty save – a first in Arsenal colours – kept the Vicarage Road outfit out.
The same privilege from the 12-yard-mark wouldn’t be handed to the Gunners just a few minutes later, as Adrian Mariappa’s late tackle on Mkhitaryan went unnoticed.
In the 76th minute, Aubameyang returned Mkhitaryan the favour after the latter managed to squeeze a shot under Karnezis for his first league goal at the Emirates, as Arsenal took a 3-0 lead.
Danny Welbeck looked to add a fourth before time was up, but the Gunners would settle for three in their first string of back-to-back wins since January.
By Patrick Ribeiro
Player Ratings: Petr Čech (7) – Ainsley Maitland-Niles (6), Shkodran Mustafi (7), Rob Holding (6), Sead Kolasinac (6) – Mohamed Elneny (7), Granit Xhaka (6) – Henrikh Mkhitaryan (7), Mesut Özil (7), Alex Iwobi (6) – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (7)
Subs: Danny Welbeck (6), Calum Chambers (-), Jack Wilshere (-)