Arsenal 1-2 Watford: Gunners title hopes in ruins

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  • Watford secure first-ever PL win vs. Arsenal
  • Gunners failed to have a shot on target in first half
  • Arsenal travel to Chelsea on Sat. with title hopes on the line

Arsene Wenger will not have enjoyed watching that from under his blanket in the stands.

Arsenal lost 2-1 to Watford at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday as the Gunners were dealt a potentially fatal blow in their quest to chase down Chelsea at the top of the Premier League table.

Watford raced in to a 2-0 lead with goals from Younes Kaboul and Troy Deeney putting them 2-0 up early and although Alex Iwobi made it 2-1, the Gunners couldn’t find a way past the excellent Heurelho Gomes plus Lucas Perez hit the bar.

With the win, their first in eight games, Watford ease their relegation fears and move on to 27 points. Arsenal — who were without Wenger on the sidelines for the second-straight game as his four-match touchline ban continues — remain on 47 points and now face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge knowing only a win will do.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Watford started brightly and were rewarded handsomely in soggy north London.

The Hornets took the lead through Kaboul’s thunderous free kick which took a deflection off Aaron Rasmey and in. 1-0 to Watford and the home fans were stunned.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings

13 minutes in it was 2-0 to Watford as Etienne Capoue surged forward and his shot was blocked by Petr Cech but it fell straight to Deeney to slot home. 2-0. Watford in dreamland.

Things went from bad to worse for Arsenal as Ramsey went off injured clutching his calf and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came on, but the Gunners just couldn’t get going in attack and failed to have a single shot on target in the first half.

Before half time Arsenal almost fell further behind as Capoue’s cross was headed towards goal by Sebastian Prodl but Cech saved and then Miguel Britos drilled a shot on goal which Cech stopped brilliantly.

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Theo Walcott came on at half time

Walcott fired one effort wide and was then denied again, then Iwobi was thwarted by Gomes as Watford battened down the hatches.

Iwobi made it 2-1 with over 30 minutes to go as first Alexis Sanchez went down in the box under a tackle from Prodl but played was waved on and eventually the Chilean international clipped in a perfect cross which Iwobi mishit but tucked home.

Game on.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score

Arsenal continued to surge forward as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain forced Gomes into a fine stop down low. Sanchez then had a free kick which deflected just over and Nacho Monreal‘s volley went inches wide.

Chances kept coming for Arsenal and Lucas Perez drilled a fine effort against the crossbar and out but that was as close as Arsenal came to drawing level as Watford secured a famous win.

UEFA: Wales in trouble; Spain dominates; Buffon hits 1000

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Friday’s matches mark the midway point of the main round of qualifying in UEFA, and the tables remain tight near the top of Groups D and G.

[ MORE: Smalling hurt, Gibson called up ]

Group I, however, is seeing some distance between first and second thanks to Croatia’s result versus Ukraine.

Republic of Ireland 0-0 Wales

Neil Taylor was sent off in the 69th minute for Wales, whose World Cup hopes are in trouble.

Seamus Coleman was stretchered off after the tackle, with a scary-looking injury that will leave Everton fans sick in more ways than one. Coleman’s leg was broken, and left dangling by the challenge.

Ireland couldn’t take advantage of the sending off, and failed in a bid to overtake Serbia for first in Group D. The Irish trail on goal differential, and will host Serbia on Sept. 5.

But Wales will rue the result more, remaining four points back of second-place Ireland. Chris Coleman’s side drops a point behind Austria as well, and will not have Taylor or Gareth Bale (card accumulation) in its next match. That comes against leaders Serbia.

Italy 2-0 Albania

Daniele De Rossi scored a 12th minute penalty kick won by Andrea Belotti, and Ciro Immobile scored late to provided the goals in Gianluigi Buffon’s 1000th appearance for club and country. Fittingly, it ended in a clean sheet. The match was briefly delayed after flares were thrown onto the field.

Spain 4-1 Israel

David Silva, Vitolo, and Diego Costa stakes the Spaniards to a three-goal lead, with Lior Refaelov ruining David De Gea‘s clean sheet with 11 minutes to play. Isco scored the match’s final goal.

Spain remains atop Group G on goal differential, eight better than second place Italy. Israel is four points behind both.

Croatia 1-0 Ukraine

Fiorentina’s Nikola Kalinic’s 38th minute goal was enough for the hosts, and Croatia is now five points clear at the top midway through qualifying.

Elsewhere
Austria 2-0 Moldova — RB Leipzig’s Sabitzer nabs winner
Liechtenstein 0-3 Macedonia — Ilija Nestorovski bags brace
Kosovo 1-2 Iceland — Sigurdsson PK the match winner
Georgia 1-3 Serbia — Mitrovic, Tadic lead the way
Turkey 2-0 Finland — Brace for Cenk Tosun

Boro’s Gibson called to England after injury to Man Utd’s Smalling

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Scoring goals has been the biggest problem for Middlesbrough in its return to the Premier League, and that overshadows how well the Northeast club has defended its own goal.

Ben Gibson has been a huge part of that, and now he’ll earn the chance to represent his nation thanks to an injury to Chris Smalling. Gibson will join England ahead of Sunday’s home World Cup qualifier against Lithuania.

[ MORE: Podolski leads Germany past England ]

Gibson has far and away been Boro’s best player, leading the side in blocked shots and clearances. The blocked shots total is tied for ninth in the Premier League, 11 behind current leader and new England teammate Michael Keane.

Smalling’s undisclosed injury is a bigger problem for Manchester United, which had already lost center back depth on England duty when Phil Jones was hurt.

Dele Alli to miss next three European matches, UCL or UEL

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Tottenham Hotspur is primed to qualify for a second-straight UEFA Champions League campaign this year, and will have to start that sophomore run without Dele Alli.

The 20-year-old playmaker has banned for his next three matches. If Spurs finish fourth, that would mean both qualifying matches and an additional match.

[ MORE: Five questions for USMNT ]

If they finish higher, Dele will miss the first three group stage matches.

Dele was shown red for a tackle on Brecht Dejaegere in Spurs’ 2-2 draw with Gent in the UEFA Europa League Round of 32, as Tottenham left the tournament.

Men in Blazers podcast: Man City-Liverpool review, USMNT preview

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Rog and Davo recap the Top Four battle between Manchester City and Liverpool, ask (again) whether it’s time for Arsene to go, and break down two of the most important USMNT games in modern history.

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