The Warmdown: Gunners move into fourth place with win over Watford
Bukayo Saka of Arsenal scores their sides second goal during the Premier League match between Watford and Arsenal at Vicarage Road on March 06, 2022 in Watford, England.

In a game of beautiful strikes, goals from Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli were the difference, as Arsenal earned another three points on the road facing Watford this afternoon.

The win takes the Gunners into the Champions League spots once again, as they make the push for European football next season. Watford however continued their downward trajectory, despite new manager Roy Hodgson bringing a new sense of defensive solidity to the Hornets, the quick attacking play from the visitors proved too much for them on the day. 

Arsenal now sit in the CL positions, with three games in hand on the teams directly below them, Manchester United and West Ham. Mikel Arteta's side now must surely consider themselves to be in pole position for Europe's premier cup competition next term. 

  • A quick start

Both teams came flying out of the blocks this afternoon - Watford actually had the ball in the back of the net within 20 seconds, thanks to Emmanuel Dennis, but thankfully for Arsenal, the Nigerian was ruled to be offside.

Taking this early start as a warning sign, the Gunners stepped onto the front foot without hesitation, managing to have the ball in the net themselves just four minutes into the tie - this time, it would count. 

Following some clever interplay on the right hand side between Saka and Odegaard, the former found the later arriving in the box, for the Norwegian to slide the ball past Ben Foster in the Watford goal. It was another great example of Arteta's footballing blueprint coming to fruition - neat passing, direct running and clinical finishing. 

But it would be the hosts who would strike next, and in some style. Stemming from an attack on the right hand side, Dennis fed Kiko Feminia down the right, who in turn crossed the ball in towards Cucho Hernandez.

The young Colombian threw himself into the air, striking the ball with a perfectly-timed bicycle kick into the bottom right hand corner - a worthy equaliser, to say the very least.

The visitors did manage to get themselves ahead once again before the break, as Saka dispossessed Tom Cleverley on the edge of the Hornets' box, drilling the ball into captain Alexandre Lacazette, who rolled the ball back into Saka's path. The England International gave Foster 'the eyes', as he sent him the wrong way, lashing the ball into the top-right corner.

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
  • The scoreline never tells the full story

Despite what was a valiant effort from the home side, they simply did not have enough in the tank to better Arteta's in-form Arsenal squad. Watford did make a number of opportunities to score, but from the moment Arsenal's third went past Foster, the game looked beyond the hosts. 

The third goal for the Gunners came from young Brazilian Martinelli. Arteta had a direct part to play in this move, as the ball went out for a throw-in on the right hand side, with the Arsenal manager rushing down the touchline to give the ball back to his side quickly. 

The ball, as ever, moved through both Saka and Odegaard to find Lacazette, who teed up Martinelli on the edge of the box to strike the ball into the top-left corner - perhaps the pick of the bunch on the day. 

Arsenal played with their now typical swagger and direction, moving the ball to move the opposition, making spaces in between the defensive lines and reaping the benefits of doing so. 

The second half wasn't without its nervy moments however, as Moussa Sissoko pulled one back for the Hornets with just three minutes of standard time remaining, as he slipped past Ben White to finish from a tight angle. 

But through possession, time-wasting and resilience, the Gunners managed to hold on for the all-important three points. 

  • Looking ahead

Having found themselves in the middle of a hot run of form, The Arsenal have a number of crucial games coming over the horizon. First of all is a major tie at the Emirates Stadium, as they play hosts to the under-performing Leicester City. Keeping momentum going is key at this stage in the season, and Arteta will be hoping that his side can outwit the Foxes. 

Following the Leicester tie is a blockbuster game against Liverpool, again at the Emirates under the lights. The Gunners head into this one as clear underdogs if recent season's results are anything to go by, but picking up points in this tie would be hugely beneficial to their top-four bid come the end of the season. 

The Arsenal camp will be solely focussed on the next fixture, as the fanbase start to really believe that Champions League football could be returning to the red side of North London. 
 

 

 

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