From bad to worse: Watford give up rare goal, then Deeney is sent off

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In a one-minute, 38-second span, Watford’s expectations for its match against Arsenal were completely flipped on their head.

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First, goalkeeper Ben Foster‘s lackadaisical touch in the six-yard box allowed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to close him down, resulting in a block that saw the ball ricochet into the net. Then, 98 seconds later, Watford captain Troy Deeney was shown a straight-red card after an assistant referee spotted Deeney leave an elbow into the head of Arsenal central midfielder Lucas Torreira.

That left Watford down a man and down a goal. Perhaps to make matters worse, Watford manager Javi Gracia doesn’t have a star like Gerard Deulofeu available on the bench to add that attacking spark that Watford will need without Deeney on the pitch.

Watch Live: Watford v. Arsenal

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Watford host Arsenal at Vicarage Road on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), as the teams who are based at training centers in the same street north of London are both aiming for European qualification.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

On the back of reaching the FA Cup final (for just the second time in club history) Javi Gracia‘s Watford will be flying high as they chase a top seven finish.

As for Unai Emery‘s Arsenal, they remain in the hunt for a top four finish but Emery has faced Gracia’s teams in the past and knows this will not be an easy task in a busy week for the Gunners who face Napoli in the Europa League on Thursday.

In teams news for Watford, Ben Foster, Christian Kabasele, Daryl Janmaat and Adam Masina all come into the starting lineup.

Arsenal start Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up top, while Dinos Mavropanos also starts and Granit Xhaka has recovered from injury. Mesut Ozil, Matteo Guendouzi and Alexandre Lacazette are all on the bench.


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Premier League Preview: Manchester United v. Watford

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  • United has won 6 of last 7 in series
  • Watford one point back of 7th
  • Red Devils remain fifth
  • Man Utd leads all-time 21W-5D-5L

Manchester United looks for a season sweep of pesky Watford and improved footing in the Top Four race when the two sides meet at Old Trafford on Saturday (Watch live at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

It’s been 19 days since Manchester United fell 2-0 to Arsenal, a long time for newly-confirmed full-time manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to marinate on his first Premier League loss as manager of the Old Trafford set.

Watford has lost two of its last three PL outings, though those setbacks came against Liverpool and Manchester City

United bested Watford 2-1 at Vicarage Road in September, with Chris Smalling and Romelu Lukaku scoring twice in three first-half minutes.

What they’re saying

United’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on being named full-time manager: “This is the job that I always dreamed of doing and I’m beyond excited to have the chance to lead the club long term. From the first day I arrived, I felt at home at this special club. It was an honour to be a Manchester United player, and then to start my coaching career here. The last few months have been a fantastic experience.”

Watford’s Javi Gracia on schedule congestion due to FA Cup: “We have to play eight games in the Premier League and I hope two in the FA Cup. Ten games and in these ten games, we have to show what we are able to do in the most important part of the season. I’m always focused on the next game. We’ve done this all season and it is the best way. We will continue in the same way. We have to take the right decisions and all the games are important, but now the most important game is United.”

Prediction

A delighted Old Trafford is too much for the Hornets, who fall 3-1 to the hosts.

Watford’s Doucoure dreams of UEFA Champions League

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Abdoulaye Doucoure has been among Watford’s best players for two seasons, but how many more will he spend at Vicarage Road?

The 26-year-old arrived from Granada in 2016 and found it tough sledding in the Premier League, but was outstanding last season and no slouch in this one, either.

[ MORE: USMNT-Chile recap | Player ratings ]

Now considered one of the best uncapped players in the world, Doucoure admits that the Champions League lives in his dreams despite happiness at Watford.

The Hornets are in contention to qualify for the Europa League via the league route or FA Cup. From Sky Sports:

“Playing in the Champions League is one of my dreams and a lot of the squad want to do it as well. I think I can do it in the next few years.”

“I feel very confident here, I feel very happy and I think if I can reach a big club, everyone will be happy for me.”

Somehow we don’t think everyone will, Abdoulaye. They may understand, but not sure happy is the adjective we’d choose for the probable reaction.

He says he loves playing for Javi Gracia, but the UCL is always going to be a tough ask unless the Hornets win the Europa League or spend very big.

A move to Spurs would be interesting in terms of Premier League clubs, though we’re sure there will be interest from the Ligue 1 and Serie A top sides, too, shy of perhaps Juventus and PSG.

Watford ruin Rodgers’ Leicester debut (video)

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  • Andre Gray scores 92nd minute winner
  • Deeney had put Watford ahead
  • Vardy equalized in second half
  • Defeat for Rodgers on Leicester debut

Watford beat Leicester City 2-1 at Vicarage Road on Sunday, as Brendan Rodgers‘ first game in charge of the Foxes ended in bitter disappointment.

A stoppage time winner from substitute Andre Gray saw Watford grab all three points, as Javi Gracia‘s men took the lead through Troy Deeney early on and dominated vast swathes of the game. Jamie Vardy equalized 15 minutes from time and it looked like Leicester would grab a point, but Gray delivered in the 92nd minute as Rodgers’ return to the Premier League wasn’t a happy one.

With the win Watford move level with seventh-place Wolves on 43 points, while Leicester remain in 11th on 35 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Deeney should have scored straight away but Kasper Schmiechel saved and then Gerard Deulofeu‘s shot was blocked. But the Hornets took the lead soon after as Deeney flicked home Deulofeu’s free kick with his head to give Rodgers the worst possible start as Leicester’s manager.

A moment of concern then arrived as Vardy and Ben Foster collided with the former suffering a a blow to the head and Foster requiring some treatment on his chin. Both players continued, and Harvey Barnes then went close for the Foxes after Ben Chillwell’s fine cross.

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Leicester threatened out wide with some testing crosses into the box and Barnes caused some problems with his powerful central runs.

Adrian Marriapa cleared a dangerous cross from James Maddison as Watford’s defense held firm and went in ahead at the break.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

At the start of the second half it was Watford who looked sharper, once again, as Abdoulaye Doucoure curled a powerful shot on goal which Schmiechel pushed away.

The game turned into a cagey encounter for most of the second half as tackles flew in and Deeney battled away with the likes of Morgan and Harry Maguire.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Leicester then equalized through Vardy, as Youri Tielemans picked out a perfect pass to open up Watford’s defense and Vardy dinked the ball over Foster to make it 1-1. Maguire may have fouled in an aerial challenge leading up to the goal, but Jon Moss waved play on.

The Foxes almost won it late on as Maddison whipped in a delightful cross but Morgan could only send his header wide. And moments later Watford won it, as Deeney flicked the ball around the corner and Gray latched onto the loose ball and finished calmly past Schmeichel to leave Rodgers looking to the ground in disgust.