Watford 2 Arsenal 3: Gunners edge towards Champions League spot as Odegaard, Saka & Martinell fire side into top four

Watford 2 Arsenal 3: Gunners edge towards Champions League spot as Odegaard, Saka & Martinell fire side into top four

MIKEL ARTETA rolled back the years to claim an unlikely Arsenal assist which keeps his team bang on course for a top four finish.

The Gunners boss turned ballboy to set up a quick Bukayo Saka throw-in which led directly to his team’s killer third goal to see off struggling Watford.

Saka’s 52nd minute throw was quickly moved on by Martin Odegaard and Alex Lacazette for Gabriel Martinelli to put this game to bed with a superb first-time strike from the edge of the area.

It was arguably the pick of three superb Arsenal goals which leaves them knocking on the door of Champions League qualification and Watford staring at relegation.

Yet the Hornets thought they had got off to the perfect start when Emmanuel Dennis fired home after just 17 seconds, but their celebrations were cut short by an offside flag.

And things went rapidly downhill from there for Roy Hodgson’s team when they were cut to ribbons by a slick exchange of passes as Arsenal seized a fifth minute lead.

Poor old Hassane Kamara didn’t know if he was coming or going as Odegaard and Saka swapped possession at blurring speed before the Norwegian playmaker rolled a precise shot beyond the reach of Ben Foster.

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Cucho Hernandez equalised with a wondergoalCredit: Alan Cozzi 07968336683
Cucho Hernandez celebrates levelling for WatfordCredit: Alan Cozzi 07968336683
Bukayo Saka fired Arsenal back in the leadCredit: Reuters
Bukayo Saka celebrates putting Arsenal aheadCredit: Rex

Yet if that goal was one to remember, Watford’s surprise equaliser 11 minutes was even better when Cucho Hernandez beat Aaron Ramsdale all ends up with a spectacular bicycle kick from Kiko Femenia’s cross.

Considering that Watford had only scored twice in their previous six games under Hodgson, it was a goal which few at Vicarage Road had seen coming.

They almost struck again in the 25th minute when Emmanuel Dennis was allowed to cut inside for a low shot which Ramsdale was just able to claw away from the lurking Joao Pedro at the second attempt.

But it was the visitors who always looked the more dangerous and so it was to prove when they regained the lead after half an hour.

Tom Cleverley was caught dithering in possession by Saka and when Lacazette rolled the ball back with the bottom of his boot the England international smashed an unstoppable shot into the top corner.

No wonder Arteta is so keen to get the England international to commit himself to a new long-term contract because this kid is already proving himself to be irreplaceable.

Yet nothing is ever completely straightforward where Arsenal are concerned and even after Martinelli’s goal left them in cruise control, they still managed to test Arteta’s nerves by conceding again in the 87th minute.

Ben White misjudged Femenia’s chip over the top and Moussa Sissoko was able to squeeze a shot under Ramsdale’s dive to make it an anxious final for the visiting fans before they were able to celebrate another priceless victory.

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