Arsenal 3 Watford 2
Aubameyang, (5 pen, 33) Tierney 24, Deeney 43, pen, Welbeck 66
Watford were relegated from the Premier League after a 3-2 loss to Arsenal at the Emirates. It was a tough afternoon for the manager-less Hornets who following the loss, exit the top flight after a five year stay. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang grabbed a first half brace, with Kieran Tierney on target for his first Arsenal strike. For a second consecutive season, Aubameyang hit the 22 Premier League goal tally, however he narrowly missed out on the golden boot by one goal to Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy.
Troy Deeney, “gutted” after Watford were relegated following his side’s 3-2 loss to Arsenal
Aubameyang had a great chance to complete his hat-trick but couldn’t convert when Ben Foster saved from a narrowing angle after substitute Eddie Nketiah set up the chance on a break. Troy Deeney and former Gunner Danny Welbeck gave the visitors hope with two second half goals to reduce the deficit to 3-2, but it wasn’t to be for the visitors
With just five minutes on the clock, Arsenal took the lead. David Luiz’s long ball out found Aubameyang and Watford sensed problems. Aubameyang’s cross was heading for Lacazette until Craig Dawson clattered into the back of the France striker. After a lengthy VAR check, referee Mike Dean awarded the penalty and up stepped Aubameyang to duly convert sending Ben Foster the wrong way for the opener
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck Arsenal’s second in spectacular style
The visitors however came right back at Arsenal with some neat interchange play. Roberto Peryra forced Emiliano Martinez to make a good early save, while Deeney’s header, hit Rob Holding in the face when it looked to be heading in. After misplacing a few key defensive passes, Holding’s aerial bravery showed why he deserves to get more starts next season.
Having been tested, the Gunners responded with some neat passing of their own, and on 24 minutes they doubled their lead. Nicolas Pepe’s cross from deep on the right found Aubameyang to set up Kieran Tierney who placed in a deflected effort off Hughes for 2-0 and his first Arsenal goal.
Just past the half hour mark and Arsenal added another. Tierney’s throw-in from deep on the left, reached Aubameyang who had Dawson on his back. The Gabon striker however got an over-head kick away in tight space to beat Foster to make it 3-0, and his 22nd goal of the season.
Danny Welbeck gave the Hornets hope after netting his fourth goal of the season
Watford grabbed a first half lifeline when from Holding losing possession, the recovering David Luiz unnecessarily hacked Welbeck in the box to concede a penalty. Deeney duly buried it past Martinez for a 3-1 scoreline at the break.
The Hornets came out after the re-start knowing that they needed the win. Adam Masina rushed his shot to hit over from close in as Arsenal sat back seemingly unable to cope. In now a rare offensive move, Ainsley Maitland-Niles was denied by Foster after some good work from Dani Ceballos. But for further saves by Martinez from Welbeck in particular, Watford could have been level. Ismaila Sarr has been a revelation at Vicarage Road – it was his goal which beat Liverpool to deny Liverpool the Invincible tag, and here he was giving Sead Kolasinac the run around. Sarr’s cross to find Welbeck had Arsenal in trouble, but their former striker’s back-heel saw Martinez get down low to make a crucial save.
Emiliano Martinez kept Arsenal in the game, but was beaten by Deeney from the penalty spot
On for Lacazette, Nketiah was busying himself. When he won possession just inside Watford’s half, he chose to find Aubameyang to his left. As he raced away, Foster came out to narrow the angle, and Aubameyang was unable to lift the ball over for the Watford keeper for his hat-trick and much to his frustration.
Mikel Arteta reflected on his side’s performance. He said. “It was a crazy game, right from the start. The moment that we went one or two nil up you could sense that their front players were a bit ‘cheating’ and obviously even if they couldn’t finish the actions every time the counter was open, we allowed them too many balls in the box. This is where they are really dangerous. They had some really good quality moments with the ball in the final third, but we weren’t at the races without the ball, like we have been in the last few games.”
Mikel Arteta – “It was a crazy game”
The Arsenal head coach clarified “cheating,” to mean that Watford employed a twin- attack force which remained up top.
On relegation from the Premier League Watford captain Deeney expressed his big disappointment after his club put in the effort on and off the pitch.
“We’re gutted. There’s no other way to say it. What people don’t see is someone like (Heurelho) Gomes, who is in absolute tears because he wasn’t able to help or contribute in a way that he would have liked to.
Of course it hurts. Maybe I’m not going to show it but it’s the missus and the kids who will see it over the next two weeks, so I apologise to them in advance,” said Deeney who went on to reveal that he may have played his final game for the club and will now undergo knee surgery.
Norwich City had already been relegated and after Sunday’s results, Watford and Bournemouth will join them in the Championship next season.
For Arsenal, they have a chance of ending the season with silverware and a place in next season’s Europa League, should they prevail in Saturday’s FA Cup against Chelsea.