Watford 0 Arsenal 1
Aubameyang 10

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored the only goal in an incident packed game at Vicarage Road which saw Arsenal beat Watford to claim fourth spot in the Premier League. Aubameyang’s goal was all down to his determination and sheer ground speed as he chased down a back pass from Daryl Janmaat. Hornets keeper Ben Foster seemed to have enough time to comfortably clear the ball, but Aubameyang put on the after burners to get his leg in front as Foster was about to kick the ball. The deflection off Aubameyang went into Foster’s net after 10 minutes and a minute later, the hosts were reduced to ten men. Troy Deeney raised his forearm as he went past Lucas Torreira to send the Uruguayan flying. After consultation with his assistant, referee Craig Pawson produced a straight red card much to the annoyance of Deeney. The Warford striker didn’t have a defence for his action, while the Arsenal defence were put through the ringer with some fine saves from Bernd Leno enabling the Gunners to claim a rare away day victory and a first Premier League clean sheet away from the Emirates.

Unai Emery made six changes from the side which beat Napoli 2-0 at the Emirates last Thursday, and facing his former team mate Javi Gracia, Emery knew that Watford would be a handful. Last season this fixture saw the Hornets triumph 2-1 having gone a goal behind, with Deeney later claiming that Arsenal lacked “cojones.” Whatever he said then, the Watford captain seemed to lose his mind when swiping his forearm in Torreira’s face.

Despite being a man light, Watford saw chances fall to Craig Cathcart, Etienne Capoue and a stunning 30 yard drive from Adam Masina which clipped Leno’s upright. Th German was required to be at his most concentrated as Arsenal just couldn’t profit from their one man advantage. A swift move which saw Alex Iwobi fizz a cross in for Aubameyang was promising, but the Gabon striker saw his effort deflected off the yellow shirted defenders.

Right up until the end, Watford looked like grabbing a point when Andre Gray rounded Leno, but substitute Ainsley Maitland-Niles produced a crucial block to preserve his side’s lead, with the Gunners happy to revert to a back four from the earlier three man defence.

Aubameyang’s 18th Premier League goal of the season sees him just on behind Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah who are both on 19 goals.

Emery said that he didn’t see the incident leading up to Deeney’s red card, and wasn’t aware of what the Watford captain said as he walked past their dugout.

“I didn’t see the red card. I leave the decision for the referee. It’s clear it helped us, with the decisions, because we played with one more player from then on. It’s more difficult for them. But our goal gave us the advantage in the first half and after the red card also. It helped us to take more control of the game, but we didn’t do all we wanted to do. But we can be happy with the result, because playing here is very difficult.”

The Arsenal Head Coach then explained the reasoning behind his tactical formations, and why he took Torreira off.

“First I decided to do the change of Lucas Torreira because after the red card, the atmosphere is against him and also the doctor said to me in the first half that he has a little pain for Thursday and I decided okay, it’s the moment [to take him off]. We played with the same system – 4-2-3-1 – with Xhaka and Aaron coming closer to Xhaka for the build-up and Mesut behind Auba as a midfielder. We didn’t control like I wanted to control the match.

“We are thinking and I was thinking to play with three centre backs to be enough for our build-up and use one player more in the middle, like Matteo as a possibility to help with Xhaka, help with Aaron and Mesut, to give the security in the midfield. But I didn’t do this decision on the pitch with all the control I wanted, so after I changed and recovered a 4-2-3-1 with Ainsley.

“Above all, also in our team, the second half they can take some moments and the possibility to score in set-pieces or a long ball and a second action. We worked very well on set-pieces and the long balls with second actions but the most important for us was to score the second goal to control the match,” he said.

Arsenal next travel to Napoli for the second leg of their Europa League quarter final on Thursday, and then host Crystal Palace in th Premier League on Sunday.