Arsenal remain very much alive on the race for a UEFA Champions League berth next season. Knowing they needed a win following Chelsea’s defeat on Sunday against Liverpool, Unai Emery’s men didn’t disappoint and secured a hard-working 1-0 win over Watford at Vicarage Road. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored the game’s lone goal.
On paper this seemed like a tough task for Arsenal – Watford have been one of the “best from the rest” teams in the Premier League this term, and they’re fighting for a spot in the UEFA Europa League next season. However, The Gunners only needed 10 minutes to establish the differential thanks to Aubameyang and, oddly, Ben Foster. The former Manchester United goalkeeper couldn’t control a pass and Aubameyang got in the way of his clearance to score the opener.
Of course, it didn’t help that Troy Deeney got sent off one minute later for deliberately elbowing an opponent. So out of nowhere, Watford were down one goal and one player before the 15th minute mark. And it was a hole they were never able to get out of. But they didn’t sit back and still threatened Bernd Leno’s goal. Craig Cathcart and Etienne Capoue both had clear chances, but neither could take advantage of them. The same thing happened at the other end where Alex Iwobi could’ve doubled Arsenal’s lead, but Foster denied him with an excellent save.
In the end, the first half ended with a 1-0 edge for Arsenal.
Watford tried, but couldn’t change their luck
Things didn’t change much during the second half since it never looked as if Watford had one less player out there. In fact, they created some of the clearer chances throughout the second half. Adam Masina crashed the crossbar in the 62nd minute with a long-range effort that would’ve been a Goal of the Season contender, and Andre Gray also failed to score from close after the defence blocked him. We can’t blame The Hornets for trying, but it simply wasn’t their day.
As for Arsenal, both Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang could’ve doubled the side’s lead but missed their chances. It’s worth noting that Mesut Özil saw action and played most of the second half, but he wasn’t able to become a game-changer for the London-based side. But despite Watford’s attempts, Arsenal didn’t have many problems and they sealed the win comfortably.
With the three points, now Arsenal sit in fourth place with 66 points out of 33 matches. But with Chelsea (66) and Manchester United (64) sitting right behind them, the race for fourth place is far from over in the Premier League. As for Watford, they remain in 10th place with 46 points, but are one point behind seventh-placed Leicester City. The loss here is not the result they wanted, but things could’ve been worse given they played almost 80 minutes with 10 men.
Watford: Foster (4); Janmaat (6), Kabasele (5), Cathcart (6), Masina (6) (Sema (-), 86′); Kiko Femenía (5) (Success (6), 59′), Capoue (6), Doucoure (5); Hughes (6); Deeney (3), Gray (5)
Bench: Gomes (GK), Mariappa, Marc Navarro, Britos, Chalobah
Arsenal: Leno (7); Mustafi (6), Mavropanos (6) (Guendouzi (5), 59′), Koscielny (7), Nacho Monreal (6); Torreira (5) (Özil (6), 46′), Xhaka (7); Mkhitaryan (6), Ramsey (7) (Maitland-Niles (6), 68′), Iwobi (7); Aubameyang (6)
Bench: Cech (GK), Kolasinac, Elneny, Lacazette
Goals: Aubameyang (0-1, 10′)
Yellow cards: Capoue, Hughes (WAT)
Red Cards: Deeney (WAT)
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