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.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

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.

Conte: Chelsea “ready to fight to the end”

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Following Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal win over Spurs and Tuesday’s blowout of Southampton — the 4-2 score line didn’t tell the story of the second half — Antonio Conte is fired up for Chelsea to complete its Premier League title run.

The manager admits that his side was under pressure after Spurs narrowed the table gap to four points last week, but the wins have eased the Blues’ burden.

Chelsea had lost two of four PL matches before the weekend.

From Football.London:

“I think we passed a big, big psychological step after the defeat to United. We lost three points and had to prepare a semi-final against Tottenham and then another tough game in the league. In that moment we had a really important test and our answer was very good.

“We must think that this race is open, we have reached the final of the FA Cup. The situation in the league is totally open. We are ready to fight to the end. We must be proud for the job we are doing and to fight to the end.”

Spurs can bring the gap back to four with a win at Crystal Palace on Tuesday, but have a tougher run-in with five matches to play. As long as the gap is within six points, anything is possible, but the Blues have certainly answered the bell over the past four days.

Chelsea: Big win “feels like a massive step” to title

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“It feels like a massive step to be honest,” said game-changing goal scorer Gary Cahill of Chelsea’s 4-2 win over Southampton at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

Chelsea’s Premier League lead stands at seven points after the win, which saw a dominant second half from the hosts.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 4-2 Saints ]

Perhaps it was cued up by Cahill’s first half stoppage time header, which boosted the Blues to a 2-1 lead just before the whistle.

Cahill darted in front of Diego Costa‘s scissor kick attempt to power a header past Fraser Forster.

“(Costa) tried to claim it afterward as well,” Cahill said. “When the ball’s just lofted over, it’s dying to be attacked. We went into halftime with our tails up and it was a big boost for us.”

Cesc Fabregas said Southampton surprised the Blues tactically, leading to an entertaining first half that could’ve seen either side ahead before half.

“We needed a little bit of time to adapt to what they did because we prepared for something else,” he said.

Fabregas said the win was big with second-place Spurs watching at home. Tottenham plays at Crystal Palace on Wednesday.

“We needed a good response after the Man United game. We have to keep going with five games to go, to keep it up and make the last push. It would be a big shame if now we relaxed. We just have to push now more than ever,” he said.

“It’s a statement for (Spurs), for us, for everyone, but most of all for us.”
Eden Hazard agreed.
“We scored four beautiful goals,” said the Belgian, who scored the game’s first goal. “It’s good to play before and put pressure on them.”

Chelsea 4-2 Southampton: Blues send message in win

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  • Costa nabs two goals, assist
  • Hazard, Cahill score
  • Chelsea ups table lead to seven

Gary Cahill‘s first-half stoppage time marker was a momentum shifter as Chelsea topped Southampton to increase its Premier League table lead with a 4-2 win on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Cahill, Hazard, Fabregas react to “massive step” ]

Diego Costa scored twice and Eden Hazard also scored for the Blues, and Cesc Fabregas moved into second place on the Premier League’s all-time assists list with a helper on Costa’s first goal.

Former Chelsea men Oriol Romeu and Ryan Bertrand scored for Saints, as Southampton remains ninth with 40 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

There were early lively moments for both sides, as Saints’ Manolo Gabbiadini attempted to back up Antonio Conte‘s pre-match praise as one of the best left foots in the world.

Chelsea found the opener through Hazard, as Costa held possession into the right of the box before cutting back to find Belgian. Fraser Forster couldn’t get low quick enough to stop Hazard’s low shot, and it was 1-0.

Romeu, clearly buoyed by JPW’s feature piece earlier this week, bagged an equalized off a corner kick. Gabbiadini sidled up to the ball at the back post, and pushed it off Thibaut Courtois into the path of the former Chelsea man.

Sofiane Boufal was also dangerous for Saints, and won a free for James Ward-Prowse that amounted to a corner kick from the edge of the 16. Courtois flew forward to put the ball free.

N'Golo Kante had his turn to start a threat, and Forster’s block of his cross only queued up a pair of opportunities between Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic.

Cahill made it 2-1 in stoppage time, darting in front of Costa’s scissor kick attempt to nod Marcos Alonso‘s headed pass into the goal.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Chelsea added to its lead in the first 10 minutes of the second half, with Saints allowing Cesc Fabregas a bit too much room inside the box. The Spaniard chipped a pass to countryman Costa to make it a two-goal lead.

Forster made a good save on a tricky Costa attempt in the 71st minute.

Corner kicks were not easily defended by Chelsea, and Steven Davis came close to pulling a goal back in the 79th minute. A moment later, Forster came out to stop Kante with a wild arm save after Hazard led a lightning counterattack off the ensuing corner.

Bertrand headed a goal home in stoppage time when he got in front of Cahill, but the damage was done.

AT HALF: Chelsea strikes twice to build 2-1 lead over Saints

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Gary Cahill‘s stoppage time goal has Chelsea leading Southampton 2-1 after 45 minutes at Stamford Bridge.

Eden Hazard scored the match’s first goal, with Saints’ Oriol Romeu equalizing in the 24th minute.

A win would send Chelsea seven points clear of second place Spurs, which has played one less match than the Blues.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

There were early lively moments for both sides, as Saints’ Manolo Gabbiadini attempted to back up Antonio Conte‘s pre-match praise as one of the best left foots in the world.

Chelsea found the opener through Hazard, as Costa held possession into the right of the box before cutting back to find Belgian. Fraser Forster couldn’t get low quick enough to stop Hazard’s low shot, and it was 1-0.

Romeu, clearly buoyed by JPW’s feature piece earlier this week, bagged an equalized off a corner kick. Gabbiadini sidled up to the ball at the back post, and pushed it off Thibaut Courtois into the path of the former Chelsea man.

Sofiane Boufal was also dangerous for Saints, and won a free for James Ward-Prowse that amounted to a corner kick from the edge of the 16. Courtois flew forward to put the ball free.

N'Golo Kante had his turn to start a threat, and Forster’s block of his cross only queued up a pair of opportunities between Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic.

Cahill made it 2-1 in stoppage time, darting in front of Costa’s scissor kick attempt to nod Marcos Alonso‘s headed pass into the goal.