Arsenal tops ten-man Watford to move back into top four (video)

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  • Arsenal moves back into top four
  • Away win is Arsenal’s first since Feb. 9 at Huddersfield Town
  • Deeney sent off in 11th minute

All it took was one Ben Foster error for Arsenal to secure a rare road victory in the Premier League this calendar year.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored for Arsenal, blocking and re-directing a long pass from Foster into the Watford goal, which was enough for a 1-0 Arsenal victory at Vicarage Road, Monday evening. With the win, Arsenal jump back into the top four of the Premier League table.

Watford, on the other hand, stayed in 10th place with 46 points.

The entire game changed around a 98-second span early in the first half. First, Ben Foster’s first touch got away from him and before he was able to make a clearance to his forward line, Aubameyang chased him down and blocked the clearance. The ball ricocheted into the net, giving Arsenal the 1-0 lead.

Less than two minutes later, Watford’s captain was given his marching orders after leaving an elbow or forearm in Lucas Torreira‘s head as Troy Deeney passed him. Deeney protested but the referee’s decision was final, leaving Watford down to ten men.

The Hornets still created chances through the rest of the game, finishing with six shots, two of them on target. But Bernd Leno held steady and kept Arsenal their first clean sheet since Arsene Wenger‘s last performance.

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.

[WATCH LIVE: Watford v. Arsenal]

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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Preview: 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), with both teams pushing hard for European qualification.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

The Hornets are still flying high after reaching the FA Cup final last weekend, as Javi Gracia‘s men will play Manchester City at Wembley on May 18 after their stunning semifinal comeback against Wolves. They are also in a great position to finish seventh and qualify for the Europa League, as Everton, Leicester and Wolves all lost at the weekend.

Unai Emery‘s Arsenal lost at Everton last time out, but they followed that up with an impressive defeat of Napoli in the UEFA Europa League quarterfinal first leg and the Gunners are very much in the hunt to finish in the top four.

In team news Watford are without Jose Holebas, Domingos Quina and Tom Cleverley who are all injured, while Arsenal’s Sokratis is serving the first of a two-game suspension after picking up 10 yellow cards and Granit Xhaka is struggling with a groin injury.


What they’re saying…

Javi Gracia on Watford focusing on Europe: “Our final is against Arsenal – not in May. This is the mentality we will keep and then at the end we will see the position and the points. But in this moment, our final is on Monday. My feeling is that the players are really focused on the next game. In this moment, I prefer to keep the same attitude we had during all the season, trying to give importance to the next game.”

Unai Emery on Gracia, Watford: “I know Javi Gracia and above all his teams are very organized with a big commitment to helping each other. They are very difficult teams to battle because defensively they are very strong and this is now at Watford. They are a very organized team, with a big capacity offensively because they create a good movement and a good idea, a good style to take that. I want to play matches against Javi Gracia and Watford because I think they are doing a big season.”


Prediction

This is a big week for Arsenal with the second leg of their Europa League quarterfinal at Napoli on Thursday, then they host Crystal Palace on Sunday. Emery will rotate his squad and Watford will be high on confidence after they reached the FA Cup final for just the second time in club history. I’m calling this a draw. 1-1.

Top Premier League storylines: Week 34

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There is plenty of intrigue as the Premier League returns beginning Friday with Newcastle United’s visit to Europa-hopeful Leicester City (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

[ PL PREVIEW: Leicester v. Newcastle ]


Weary Chelsea seeks revenge against relatively rested Reds
Liverpool v. Chelsea — 11:05 p.m. ET Sunday on NBC and online via NBCSports.com [ STREAM ]

With all due respect to the Reds’ remaining opponent, it’s not crazy to say this is the last match in which a logical argument could be made for the hopeful champions losing points in league play. Maurizio Sarri‘s back line is pretty calm under pressure, and the Blues have the dogs to put the Reds in unhappy places. But Liverpool has two more days rest than the Blues, who play Thursday in the Czech Republic.

Red Devils aim for response to poor midweek attacking
Manchester United v. West Ham United — 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC and online via NBCSports.com [ STREAM ]

West Ham has lost three of four, all by 2-0 score lines, and now visit a wounded Manchester United seeking to regain its form ahead of a big trip to Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League.

Man City seeks form rebound in visit to Selhurst Park
Crystal Palace v. Manchester City — 9 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com [ STREAM ]

Roy Hodgson‘s Palace men have challenged Man City before, and the reigning Premier League champions have not been in top form for some time. Can Hodgson help his former side Liverpool inch closer to a first Premier League crown?

(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Away-challenged Arsenal meets confident Watford
Watford v. Arsenal — 3 p.m. ET Monday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com [ STREAM ]

Every few steps forward seem to meet a step back for Arsenal, who will have to deal with Europa League play in trying to overcome last week’s loss to Everton. The Hornets, for their part, are brimming with confidence in their bid to win the PL’s seventh place.

Cardiff City takes its safety hopes to Turf Moor
Burnley v. Cardiff City — 10 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com [ STREAM ]

Sean Dyche‘s improving Clarets can clinch Premier League safety with a victory against desperate Cardiff City, who would’ve circled this match as a prime chance to surge toward a great escape.