Premier League: Arsenal finally win away and move back into the top four
Gunners gifted a winner as the Hornets sting themselves at Vicarage Road
Watford 0 Arsenal 1
Ninety seconds of madness gifted Arsenal three points at Watford on Monday night and moved the Gunners back to fourth in the Premier League table.
Few among the Arsenal faithful would have headed to Vicarage Road with much confidence given the way the Hornets have plagued the Gunners in recent seasons.
And the hosts started strongly, putting Arsenal on the back foot as they sought to exert their physical dominance over a club that captain Troy Deeney has in the past described as “gutless”.
In words that have come back to bite him, Deeney boasted to The Sun in 2017 that “whenever I play against Arsenal, I’ll go up and think ‘let me whack the first one and see who wants it’.”
With ten minutes gone Watford had what in modern parlance can only be described as a double brain fart.
First, goalkeeper Ben Foster - normally Mr Reliable between the sticks - dawdled too long in making his clearance kick. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang charged at the keeper who, taken by surprise with the speed of the onrushing Arsenal forward, panicked.
His attempt to hoof the ball clear ended in disaster as it cannoned against Aubameyang’s outstretched leg and rebounded into the net.
“I am a guy who always believes in small chances and that was a small chance for me and I tried my best to get to the goalkeeper and I did it,” said Aubameyang. “It’s a long time I’ve waited to score a goal like this and I am really happy.”
The howler unsettled the Hornets and a minute later Deeney crossed the line that separates robust play and dirty play with an elbow to the head of Arsenal midfielder Lucas Torreira. Referee Craig Pawson consulted with his assistant before showing Deeney a red card.
Reduced to ten men Watford still caused some uncomfortable moments for an Arsenal defence that, once again, looked unsure of itself.
Bernd Leno pulled off a couple of sharp saves and when the German keeper was beaten by Adam Masina’s powerful drive the crossbar came to his rescue.
Nonetheless Arsenal held on for only their second league away win in 2019 (the other was against Huddersfield), a result that lifts them to fourth, two points clear of Manchester United and ahead of Chelsea (who have played a game more) on goal difference.
Tottenham are a point ahead of their north London neighbours but they travel to the Etihad Stadium this weekend to take on Manchester City and Arsenal host Crystal Palace.
Unai Emery sidestepped a question about the red card, telling reporters: “I didn’t see the red card. I leave the decision for the referee.”
All the same it worked out well for his team. “It helped us to take more control of the game, but we didn’t do all we wanted to do,” he added. “But we can be happy with the result, because playing here is very difficult.”
Watford manager Javi Gracia did see the challenge and he wasn’t happy with the colour of the card. “In my opinion it is clear, maybe a yellow card but never a red card,” he said. “I do not agree with the decision.”
Premier League results
- Leicester City 0 Newcastle United 1
- Tottenham Hotspur 4 Huddersfield Town 0
- Brighton & Hove Albion 0 AFC Bournemouth 5
- Burnley 2 Cardiff City 0
- Fulham 2 Everton 0
- Southampton 3 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
- Manchester United 2 West Ham United 1
- Crystal Palace 1 Manchester City 3
- Liverpool 2 Chelsea 0
- Watford 0 Arsenal 1
Premier League fixtures
Tuesday 16 April
- Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Cardiff City (7.45pm)
Saturday 20 April (3pm unless stated)
- Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur (12.30, live on Sky Sports)
- AFC Bournemouth vs. Fulham
- Huddersfield Town vs. Watford
- West Ham United vs. Leicester City
- Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Brighton & Hove Albion
- Newcastle United vs. Southampton (5.30pm, live on BT Sport)
Sunday 21 April
- Everton vs. Manchester United (1.30pm, live on Sky Sports)
- Arsenal vs. Crystal Palace (4pm)
- Cardiff City vs. Liverpool (4pm, live on Sky Sports)
Monday 22 April
- Chelsea vs. Burnley (8pm, live on Sky Sports)