A spirited Watford were made to pay for missed chances as two quick-fire Arsenal goals in the last ten minutes sealed the Gunners a 2-0 win.

The Hornets had largely looked comfortable for 80 minutes and after Roberto Pereyra had sent a curling effort just wide of the bar, substitute Isaac Success came even closer when his lofted effort hit the base of the post.

Barely five minutes after that missed opportunity, Arsenal were in front, as Alexandre Lacazette got ahead of Craig Cathcart and the Northern Irishman got the last touch to turn substitute Alex Iwobi’s cross past Ben Foster from close range.

Lacazette then played an influential role in Arsenal’s second as he was sent racing clear down the left before setting up Mesut Ozil for the Gunners’ second.

The score-line didn’t perhaps reflect Watford’s efforts and in the end, the Hornets were made to pay for missed chances, as they slipped to their second Premier League defeat of the season.

Javi Gracia was always going to have to make one enforced change to his line-up but the Spaniard sprung a surprise with Marc Navarro, rather than Kiko Femenia, replacing Daryl Janmaat at right-back for his Premier League debut.

Christian Kabasele was available to partner Cathcart in defence after his red card against Tottenham Hotspur was rescinded while captain Troy Deeney was, as expected, fit enough to lead the line alongside Andre Gray up front.

Meanwhile, Arsenal boss Unai Emery made one change to the side which beat Everton 2-0 last week, with Rob Holding replacing Sokratis in defence, who missed out through a leg injury.

After a promising opening four minutes for the Hornets, it was Arsenal who had the first effort on goal and the Golden Boys were perhaps fortunate not to concede a penalty.

There was a mix-up between Kabasele and Jose Holebas down the left, gifting possession back to the Gunners and Aaron Ramsey played through Lacazette. The Frenchman took a touch and admirably stayed on his feet under the challenge of Kabaslele before stabbing an effort just wide of the target. Replays showed that Kabasele had tried to trip Lacazette and if the Arsenal man had gone down, the Hornets would have almost certainly conceded a penalty.

But the Golden Boys were asserting themselves in the early stages and Will Hughes was inches away from handing the Golden Boys the lead in the tenth minute. An excellent in-swinging cross from Holebas found Deeney lurking at the back post and the skipper’s knockdown set-up Hughes who sent a low effort inches wide of the bottom corner.

But their hard work was almost undone minutes later when Cathcart was caught on the ball by Lacazette allowing the Frenchman to race through one-on-one. But the Golden Boys were handed a massive let off when the Frenchman’s dinked effort flew comfortably wide of the post.

Despite a couple of nervy moments defensively, the Hornets continued to look comfortable in attack and Abdoulaye Docoure was the next to have a pop at goal, but his powerful effort flew comfortably wide with the aid of a deflection.

Deeney was the first player to enter the referee’s book following a late tackle on Bellerin but the Gunners were struggling to deal with the front man’s physicality up front.

The Hornets were looking dangerous from set pieces and after Gray had drawn a foul from Shkodran Mustafi to the left of the penalty area, Holebas’ delivery almost handed Kabasele with a free header but Petr Cech bravely came to collect the ball just as the Belgium international got a touch.

Down the other end, Ben Foster was tested for the first time five minutes before the break, with the Hornets’ stopper getting down well to palm away Granit Xhaka’s stinging strike from 20-yards out, after a Bellerin cross from the right made it through to the Swiss international courtesy of a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang air-kick.

For Arsenal stopper Cech, though, his afternoon was brought to a premature end on the stroke of half-time when he appeared to tweak his hamstring taking a goal-kick. He was replaced by Bernd Leno, who came on for his Premier League debut.

Following the restart, Leno would be called upon for the first time and he made an excellent sprawling save to deny Deeney, who had made an intelligent run to latch on to Holebas’ wicked free-kick, and his low effort was brilliantly tipped around the post.

After a series of Watford corners were cleared Doucoure, who hadn’t looked his usual self, was easily dispossessed by Lucas Torreira, who released Aubameyang down the right and his cross was met by Lacazette whose header went high and wide of the target.

Iwobi replaced Ramsey for Arsenal’s second change following the hour mark and another half opportunity came and went for the Gunners soon after, when Nacho Monreal almost latched onto Torreira’s in-swinging cross.

But Watford countered and Deeney played through Gray who took a touch, but his effort was straight at Leno.

That chance lifted the Hornets and Pereyra almost celebrated receiving his first Argentina call-up in three years with a goal, as a trademark run down the left ended with him cutting in and scooping a curling effort just wide of the far post.

Gracia responded by making his first substitution almost instantly, with Gray being replaced by Success and the Nigerian came within a whisker of scoring with almost his first touch as he did everything right after being brilliantly played in behind Arsenal’s back line, but his lofted effort flew over Leno and agonisingly clipped the base of the post.

Emery made his final substitution with 15 minutes to play, with Danny Welbeck replacing Aubameyang and Doucoure was then needlessly booked for dissent moments later.

But just as Watford were building ahead of steam, they were handed a real sucker punch when Arsenal hit the front against the run of play with ten minutes remaining. Having come so close down the other end through Success, Cathcart would put through his own net under pressure from Lacazette following Iwobi's cross to hand Emery’s side ahead.

Within a matter of seconds it was two as Lacazette was released down the left and he squared for Ozil to tap home from close range to effectively seal the points.

There was still time for Lacazette to fire wide late on as Watford left the Emirates Stadium thinking what might have been, having held their own for well over 80 minutes.

Arsenal: Cech (GK) © (Leno, 45), Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Monreal, Torreira, Xhaka, Ramsey (Iwobi, 62), Ozil, Lacazette, Aubameyang (Welbeck, 75).

Subs (Not used): Lichtsteiner, Kolasinac, Guendouzi, Mkhitaryan.

Booked: Torreira (45), Mustafi, (62).

Watford: Foster (GK), Navarro (Femenia, 85), Cathcart, Kabasele, Holebas, Hughes, Doucoure, Capoue, Pereyra, Deeney ©, Gray (Success, 70).

Subs (Not used): Gomes (GK), Mariappa, Masina, Chalobah, Sema.

Booked: Deeney (30), Doucoure (77)

Referee: Anthony Taylor.

Attendance: 60,019.