Arsenal arrested a run of three consecutive Premier League defeats as Arsene Wenger racked up his 700th win as manager in a 3-0 victory over Watford.
Losses against Tottenham, Manchester City and Brighton and Hove Albion had formed part of a run of five defeats in six matches in all competitions, before a 2-0 Europa League win at AC Milan on Thursday lifted spirits.
Aaron Ramsey and Laurent Koscielny were rested ahead of this week’s return leg against the Rossoneri but Shkodran Mustafi’s eighth-minute opener had Arsenal swiftly on the front foot.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang doubled the Gunners’ advantage in the second half, before Troy Deeney – who accused Arsenal lacking “cojones” after scoring a penalty in a 2-1 win for Watford in the reverse fixture in October – saw a spot-kick saved by Petr Cech.
And the victory was sealed for Arsenal in the 77th minute, when Henrikh Mkhitaryan fired in a third from the edge of the box for his first Premier League goal for the Gunners.
Arsenal move to within 10 points of the top four, although the Europa League now appears their most likely route to next season’s Champions League.