Doucoure to Arsenal
Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Transfer news: Doucoure to Arsenal, USMNT back to West Ham

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A pair of London clubs have been linked with players in England’s second and third tiers, one of them an American international.

[ FA Cup Final: Projected lineups | Key battles | Preview ]

The proposed interest in the latter, Antonee Robinson, came even before his below comments on his hopes for a move out of League One and into playing time.


Doucoure to Arsenal

Linked with Everton in recent weeks, Abdoulaye Doucoure is now said to be a target of FA Cup finalist Arsenal.

The Gunners are said to be hoping to land the 27-year-old Frenchman after Watford’s relegation, hopeful that the price tag may have gone down since Everton reportedly had a $50 million bid shot down in January.

A solid, physical, and technical midfielder, Doucoure’s shown the capability of the sublime with magnificent goals against Fulham a season ago and Brighton in February.

Doucoure has played 141 times for Watford since arriving from Granada in 2016. He has 17 goals and 12 assists, and

Yet he’s also spoken of moving to a Champions League side, something Arsenal will not be next year. If the club wins the FA Cup, would he accept being a Europa League player next season?

Robinson to West Ham United

USMNT left back Antonee Robinson is plotting his next move after Wigan Athletic was relegated to League One in England via points deduction.

Robinson, 22, was due to move from Wigan to AC Milan for $8 million on transfer deadline day in January but he failed a medical at the Italian giants with an irregular heart rhythm that reportedly corrected itself over the break.

Earlier this week, the Wigan Athletic man told American Soccer Now that his mindset has changed since the failed move:

“I feel like I’ve done well enough where now, wherever I go next year, I want to start. In January the idea of going to Milan, it probably didn’t even come to my head that I probably would have been on the bench… now I am more prioritizing a team where I am going to start than a team, just because they’re a big name.”

So perhaps he’s rethought Milan, where he’d be behind Theo Hernandez. Robinson has been linked to Leicester City as well as Premier League side West Ham United.

USMNT center back Aaron Long was also once linked with West Ham, where Robinson would have to overcome longtime starter Aaron Cresswell, who’s been fairly average the past few seasons.

If Ben Chilwell leaves Leicester, Robinson would rival 19-year-old Luke Thomas to start the season as Christian Fuchs is out for another 10-12 weeks.

Watford legend Deeney lets loose after Watford relegation

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An emotional Troy Deeney had plenty to say after Watford’s comeback bid came up short at Arsenal and the Hornets were relegated from the Premier League after five seasons.

The Hornets ultimately would’ve needed a win to stay up since Aston Villa drew West Ham, and going down 3-0 was too much of an ask against the Gunners in a 3-2 loss at the Emirates Stadium on Championship Sunday.

[ RECAP: Arsenal 3-2 Watford ]

Deeney had a collection of issues with the club’s performance on the season from the defending right on up to the board room and the firing of three coaches including Nigel Pearson with two matches to play.

He also questioned whether he’ll ever play in the Premier League again, though maybe his cynical comments about the club’s hierarchy could land him a move elsewhere (That’s quite tongue-in-cheek; The club legend would have to want to leave).

Deeney scored 10 times this Premier League season after missing nine matches (no wins) earlier this season. He has 133 goals and 59 assists in 398 appearances for the Hornets.

Some ‘highlights’ from his post-match, transcribed by the BBC:

On poor defense and worries for the club’s employees

“It’s not about today’s game, it’s a year of not being good enough. We can be frustrated with today but if we can’t defend as a team you’re going to lose more games than you win. But it’s worse for the fans and those who work at the club they’re the ones that might lose their jobs and it isn’t fair on them.”

On firing three managers in one season

“The club from top to bottom will need to do an audit. Because sacking three managers in one season means we haven’t got it right. Something went wrong, is that managers, is that players is it ownership? We need to audit that and go through it all to see what went wrong.”

On his future and an upcoming knee injury

“I’m 32 years old, I have a knee operation next week because I’ve been playing injured for the last month. I honestly don’t know if this is going to be my last game at Watford or in the Premier League. I don’t know, it’s too early to talk about that and it’s not about me it’s about the people at the club who work at the club and will be affected. I’ll take a few days away, assess and take some grief online no doubt.

On his career so far and the Coronavirus pandemic

“But you know if I do ultimately stop playing for Watford as of now I’ve had a great run, next week or the week after is going to be 10 years at this club. That don’t happen often, I think the whole country has had enough of COVID and I’m right in that. Basicallly I’m going to go and get my knee sorted and go and spend some time with my family and at the end of the day they’re the only people whose opinions I care about. If someone wants to give me grief online then please do it. I’m a big boy with big shoulders and I’ve had some real world issues so getting some stick online doesn’t bother me.”

Watford relegated after valiant comeback falls short at Arsenal

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Arsenal – Watford: Troy Deeney and Watford could not rescue their club from its unsteady ways, the Hornets relegated following a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Championship Sunday.

Deeney scored a penalty and Danny Welbeck also scored for Watford after Arsenal built a 3-0 lead through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s two goals and an assist to Kieran Tierney.

[ MORE: Deeney lets loose after relegation ]

Watford needed a win thanks to Aston Villa’s draw but could not complete the comeback despite six minutes of stoppage time. The Hornets finish a point and two goals worth of goal differential back of safety.

Arsenal finishes eighth with 56 points and can only clinch Europa League football with a win over Chelsea in the FA Cup.

WATCH ARSENAL – WATFORD FULL MATCH REPLAY


Three Two things we learned

1. Give Mullins due despite failure: Watford is an absolute mess, as their years-long and silly habit of firing managers on a whim probably undid them. Regardless of whether Nigel Pearson was liked or not, he had a better chance of finding something from matches against Man City and Arsenal than an interim boss.

That said, Mullins delivered some smarts by putting four forwards in his team against an Arsenal team that doesn’t always defend well. Danny Welbeck playing as a “kinda” midfielder delivered a goal and Watford was always going to concede. At least he made it fun.

Troy Deeney deserves better, but he might score 30 next year in the Championship. Who will be with him?

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

 

2. Tierney gives hope of versatility: How much more interesting is Arsenal if the longtime Celtic left back Tierney is healthy, productive, and allowing Arteta to utilize Bukayo Saka almost exclusively in attacking roles? The 23-year-old has looked good since getting healthy and claiming a regular role.

Man of the Match

Aubameyang was wonderful, even if his first goal came from the spot. Arsenal should do whatever it can to get every single advantage for the FA Cup Final against Chelsea, because if they miss out on Europa League and Aubameyang leaves they may not be back in the Champions League picture next year.


Arsenal – Watford recap

Dani Ceballos tore into a shot that Ben Foster slapped out for a corner in the first 60 seconds of play.

VAR helped Arsenal to the penalty spot early, as Michael Dawson fouled Alexandre Lacazette and Aubameyang delivered from the spot.

The Gabonese star laid off for Tierney’s goal before popping and overhead kick past Foster in the 33rd minute to make it 3-0.

Deeney have gave Watford life before halftime but would it be enough?

Maybe.

Ismaila Sarr set up Welbeck in the 66th minute to move Watford back within reasonable hope given Arsenal’s topsy-turvy defensive record.

It didn’t materialize and Watford’s most recent spell in the top flight is over at five seasons.

Arsenal – Watford stream: How to watch, start time, prediction, odds

Arsenal - Watford
Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images
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Arsenal – Watford: Hayden Mullins hopes to pull an improbable upset win to keep Watford in the Premier League when his Hornets visit Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday (Watch live at 11 am ET on the Golf Channel and online via NBCSports.com).

Watford’s 34 points have them 18th, behind Aston Villa on goal differential. If Villa beats already-safe West Ham, Watford has to beat Arsenal by one more goal than Villa beats the Irons.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Arsenal put Watford in this position by throwing away their top six hopes in a loss to Villa earlier this week. The Gunners can finish as high as eighth or as low as 10th.

STREAM ARSENAL – WATFORD LIVE


Team news

Danny Welbeck is in the midfield for Watford as Hayden Mullins goes all-out attack against Arsenal, and Mikel Arteta obliges the neutrals with Nicolas Pepe, Alexandre Lacazette, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang starting together.


What they’re saying

Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta on losing to Villa and missing out on top six“It has to hurt and we have to suffer because it is not good enough for this football club and that is why we have to put it right. We know the challenge that is really big. We are facing it and really excited about what we have ahead of us. We need to transmit this enthusiasm and passion because there are going to be some ups and downs. Unfortunately. Today is a down. Sometime it is good to see the reality and then go again, and move on, and improve.”

Watford interim boss Hayden Mullins on rebounding from loss to Man City: “We will look at the performance more, put it to bed, and start looking at the next game. We spoke about staying together and doing the right things. When you get to this stage of the season it is tough but we will deal with it the way we know how – stay confident and prepare as best we can for Sunday.”


Odds and ends (Full matchweek odds)

Arsenal is the favorite at -106 and a Watford win isn’t viewed as nuts at +265, via DraftKings.

Watford dominated the Gunners in their meeting at Vicarage Road earlier this season, coming back from a 2-0 deficit to draw 2-2 while dominating in shots 28-7.


Prediction

The Gunners themselves have to find some form before Aug. 1’s FA Cup Final against Chelsea and you just know Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is looking at Watford’s leaky back line and wondering if he can score three more goals than Jamie Vardy to take a share of the Golden Boot.


How to watch Arsenal – Watford stream, start time

Kickoff: 11 am ET Sunday
TV Channel: Golf Channel
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com

Relegation candidates ready for final day showdowns

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Aston Villa, Watford and Bournemouth go into the final day of the Premier League season knowing relegation is a possibility.

[ MORE: Final day PL TV schedule ]

Two of the three teams will be relegated when the final whistle blows, as Aston Villa sit outside the relegation zone on goal difference as they have -26 to Watford’s -27 and both teams have 34 points. Bournemouth have 31 points and are on -27 in terms of goal difference.

This will be crazy and Dean Smith, Hayden Mullins and Eddie Howe will be full of nerves, dread, tension and pretty much every other emotion you can think of.

[ MORE: Relegation scenarios explained ]

If all three teams win on the final day, Bournemouth will be relegated and then it will go down to goal difference between Aston Villa and Watford. Simply put: all three teams know they have to win to try and secure their spot in the Premier League next season and all three could easily win.


RELEGATION SCENARIOS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 West Ham United 37 10 8 19 48 61 -13 6-3-9 4-5-10 38
 Aston Villa 37 9 7 21 40 66 -26 7-3-9 2-4-12 34

 Watford 37 8 10 19 34 61 -27 6-6-7 2-4-12 34
 Bournemouth 37 8 7 22 37 64 -27 5-6-8 3-1-14 31
 Norwich City 37 5 6 26 26 70 -44 4-3-12 1-3-14 21

Relegation – How teams can stay up

    • Aston Villa: Better Watford’s result OR draw and Watford draw
    • Watford: Better Aston Villa’s result
    • Bournemouth: Win and both Aston Villa and Watford lose

Aston Villa travel to a West Ham United side who aren’t playing for anything, as is the case with Watford heading to Arsenal, and Bournemouth playing at Everton.

Below the three managers share their approach heading into the final 90 minutes of the season, one they hope will be a glorious victory which leads to them being in the Premier League next season and not relegation.

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith – West Ham v. Aston Villa preview

“We control our own destiny and that’s what we wanted to have going into the last game,” Smith said. “The most important thing is to be above that dotted line on Sunday and we know we have to win to guarantee that. We’ll be going all-out to win.”

Watford caretaker boss Hayden Mullins

“Nothing changes now going into the last game of the season,” Mullins said. “We still have to get a result whether it’s a draw or a win. Nothing really changes in that sense it’s just now out of our hands. We can only prepare for what we can prepare for and that’s to get ourselves in the right frame of mind to try and get a result on Sunday. We can’t really think about different permutations or try and set up for that, we need to get ready for what we need to do.”

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe

“The next game is the biggest game of all our careers and we’re going to do our best to win it,” Howe said. “My commitment to the club has never changed and I’ve done my best for it since day one. Controlling our emotions is going to be key. You have to be in the moment and we need the players to play the game they’ve always done and do so to a very high standard.”