Watford Dent Spurs Champions League Hopes

Watford's English striker Troy Deeney controls the ball during the English Premier League football match between Watford and Tottenham Hotspur at Vicarage Road Stadium in Watford, north of London on January 18, 2020. Adrian DENNIS / AFP
Watford’s English striker Troy Deeney controls the ball during the English Premier League football match between Watford and Tottenham Hotspur at Vicarage Road Stadium in Watford, north of London on January 18, 2020. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Watford held Tottenham to a goalless draw on Saturday to extend their unbeaten run in the Premier League and further damage Spurs’ Champions League ambitions.

When Nigel Pearson took over at Vicarage Road last month Watford looked doomed ro relegation but he has put together a remarkable run of results to lift the club out of the relegation zone.

It is a different story for Jose Mourinho’s Spurs who, without the injured Harry Kane and with uncertainty over the future of Christian Eriksen, could be 11 points off fourth spot by the end of the day.

But Pearson will feel Watford should have wrapped up all three points after his side squandered some golden chances in the second half and captain Troy Deeney saw his penalty saved.

Before kick-off there was a warm tribute from the fans to former manager Graham Taylor, who died three years ago.

It was the visitors who settled first, finding their rhythm from the kick-off, dominating possession and probing for openings on the edge of the Watford box .

But the home side broke dangerously in the second minute, with Gerard Deulofeu shooting wide of Paulo Gazzaniga’s goal.

That was a rare foray forward in the opening stages for Watford, who struggled to get on top of Mourinho’s men.

Son Heung-min looked lively on the left of Tottenham’s attack and had the first shot on target but despite all their posession Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster rarely looked troubled.

Watford threat

The  home side gradually worked their way into the game and started to see much more of the ball.

They had a good chance to test Gazzaniga when Japhet Tanganga was booked after bringing down Ismaila Sarr in a dangerous position just outside the penalty box but Nathaniel Chalobah wasted the opportunity.

Shortly before the half-hour there was a delay of several minutes as referee Michael Oliver was forced to change his communication kit, accompanied by the crowd chanting: “It’s not football any more.”

Foster saved from Son in the 30th minute and was down smartly to keep out a sharp Lucas Moura shot after a delightful through ball from Dele Alli.

Watford flew out of the blocks in the second half and could have been 2-0 up but for some poor finishing.

First Abdoulaye Doucoure scuffed the ball just wide after good work down the right by the dangerous Sarr before Sarr himself failed to connect properly from close range.

Although Watford were now well on top, Spurs continued to look dangerous on the break.

Alli headed over while Son shot after being released through the middle.

The decisive moment appeared to come with about 20 minutes to go when Spurs captain Jan Vertonghen was booked for handling Deulofeu’s shot in the penalty area.

Deeney stepped up and struck his shot firmly but Gazzaniga dived to his right to keep the ball out and the scores level.

Mourinho brought Eriksen off the bench and later introduced new signing Gedson Fernandes but it was Watford who continued to look the more dangerous side.

 

AFP

FA Cup: Watford Vs Tranmere Tie Postponed

 

Watford’s FA Cup third-round replay against Tranmere has been postponed following heavy rainfall at Prenton Park, the League One club announced on Tuesday.

The tie was scheduled for Tuesday evening but the pitch has become unplayable.

“Tonight’s @EmiratesFACup game against @WatfordFC has been postponed,” Tranmere confirmed on Twitter. “A new date for the fixture will be announced in due course.”

The first match between the clubs finished 3-3 after third-tier Tranmere recovered from a 3-0 deficit.

Among the other third-round replays on Tuesday, Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham take on Middlesbrough while Manchester United host Wolves on Wednesday.

AFP

Watford Beat Bournemouth 3-0, Exit Relegation Zone

US World Cup Defender Clavijo Dies At 63
File Photo

 

Watford captain Troy Deeney hailed the impact of Nigel Pearson in helping the Hornets bounce back from “rock bottom” after a 3-0 win at Bournemouth took them out of the Premier League relegation zone for the first time this season.

Abdoulaye Doucoure and Roberto Pereyra struck either side of Deeney’s fourth goal in five games as Watford moved above their hosts, whose five-season stay in the top flight looks in serious danger of coming to an end.

“The gaffer and all the boys need to take a lot of credit,” said Deeney. “We hit rock bottom at some points this season but we’ve managed to get the fans involved and do the hard work on the pitch.”

Bournemouth have taken just four points from their last 11 games and looked a side completely devoid of confidence as they slipped to second bottom.

Watford, by contrast, are reborn under former Leicester boss Pearson as they have taken 13 points from a possible 15 since his baptism of fire in a 2-0 defeat at Liverpool last month.

“We’ve found a collective way of working together to get more of what we want; performances and results. We showed resilience, game understanding and ability as well at times,” said Pearson.

Injuries have played a major part in Bournemouth’s decline and the loss of first-choice goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale proved vital as his understudy Mark Travers was at fault for the opening goal.

The Irish under-21 international had made a good early save low to his right to deny Gerard Deulofeu, but his poor clearance was fired straight at Ismaila Sarr three minutes before half-time and the Senegalese’s cross was expertly controlled and finished by Doucoure.

“The first goal was a big shift, up until then it was two quite even teams,” Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe told Sky Sports.

“We conceded and the second half was a lot more difficult; we dipped, they rose with the confidence.

“We are not looking free-scoring and when you concede a goal it seems a long way back.”

Deeney’s return from a long-term injury has also played a big part in his side’s return to form and the inspirational captain smashed home after another dangerous run and cross by Sarr 25 minutes from time.

Bournemouth offered nothing in response and another miserable afternoon for the Cherries was rounded off when Pereyra came off the bench to produce an acrobatic finish after Andre Gray’s shot was cleared off the line.

Solskjaer Defends De Gea, After Watford Loss

Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Watford and Manchester United at Vicarage Road Stadium in Watford, north of London on December 22, 2019.
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer came to the defence of David De Gea after the goalkeeper’s blunder proved pivotal in a 2-0 loss away to Premier League bottom side Watford on Sunday.

The Vicarage Road clash was still goalless when De Gea somehow allowed a tame, spinning effort from Ismaila Sarr to creep through his hands and in at the near post.

Watford doubled their lead four minutes later when Troy Deeney fired home from the penalty spot after Aaron Wan-Bissaka brought down Sarr with a misjudged sliding tackle and not even the returning Paul Pogba, on as a second-half substitute, could prevent defeat.

But what irked Solskjaer more than De Gea’s mistake was the pace of United’s play.

“We started the game slow,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports.

“The first half was very, very poor from both sides and when you concede two goals like we did in quick succession with their two shots on target we gave ourselves too much to do.

“It was too slow, it was like a testimonial in the first half from both teams,” he added after a defeat that left United in eighth place and continued their run of poor results against lower-ranked teams in the top flight — a marked contrast to their recent wins over Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City.

READ ALSO: Watford Upset Man United At Vicarage Road

United’s five league losses this term have come against Crystal Palace, West Ham, Newcastle, Bournemouth and now Watford.

‘Mistakes Happen’

As for Spain international De Gea’s howler, Solskjaer said: “It was a mistake, it happens in football and it is what we train for every day to make sure they don’t happen again. David has been very good lately, it is just one of those things that happen.

“You have to earn every point on the pitch and today we didn’t deserve that.

This was just Watford’s second league win this season and first of the campaign at home as they marked new manager Nigel Pearson’s first match in charge at Vicarage Road in style.

Although the Hornets remain at the foot of the table, they are now level on points with second-bottom Norwich and a mere six shy of safety.

Victory followed an impressive display in a defeat last time out at leaders Liverpool and Deeney said: “We’ve been close (to winning) for ages now.

“People are looking and see us at the bottom of the league but performances like Liverpool, Leicester before that, there are games we’re thinking we should have won.”

“It was a great team performance, lots of people did a proper shift and I’m happy for everyone here that they can have a decent Christmas.”

Deeney’s goal was his first since April but the striker insisted he had not felt under pressure to score.

“Real pressure is watching my mum work three jobs trying to make ends meet for Christmas,” he said.

“This is football.”

AFP

Watford Upset Man United At Vicarage Road

Watford’s Senegalese midfielder Ismaila Sarr (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Watford and Manchester United at Vicarage Road Stadium in Watford, north of London on December 22, 2019.
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

Manchester United collapsed to a humiliating 2-0 defeat against Premier League bottom side Watford on Sunday after a David de Gea howler, bringing their recent revival to a shuddering halt.

Not even the returning Paul Pogba, on as a second-half substitute, could save his misfiring team, who again struggled to impose themselves against one of the league’s lesser lights.

The key moment in the match came in the 50th minute when De Gea somehow allowed a tame, spinning effort from Ismaila Sarr to creep through his hands and in at the near post.

READ ALSO: Oshoala, Osimhen, Chukwueze Make Final List Of 2019 CAF Awards

Watford doubled their lead four minutes later when Troy Deeney fired home from the penalty spot after the otherwise impressive Aaron Wan-Bissaka brought down Sarr with a misjudged sliding tackle.

Nigel Pearson coaxed a battling performance from Watford in his first home game in charge and they deservedly won just their second league match of the season to give themselves hope of survival.

There was no hint of the drama to come in a largely uneventful first half.

Anthony Martial scuffed a shot wide as United, backed by vocal away support, enjoyed the bulk of early possession while Watford looked a threat when they came forward.

The home side had the ball in the net, but the goal was ruled out for a foul on De Gea.

United continued to probe, looking for openings against an organised Watford team but struggled to find the attacking threat they had shown in recent wins against Tottenham and Manchester City.

They looked certain to take the lead in the 34th minute Jesse Lingard was clean through on goal but the midfielder’s chip landed on the roof of Ben Foster’s net.

Towards the end of the first half, Watford enjoyed a sustained spell of possession but the teams went in at 0-0.

But the game slipped from United’s grasp early in the second half.

Will Hughes sent a free-kick into the area and the ball fell to Sarr, who did not hit it cleanly but somehow the ball wriggled through De Gea’s gloves.

United did not properly recover before Wan-Bissaka’s foul enabled Deeney to make it 2-0 from the penalty spot.

Solskjaer threw on Mason Greenwood, Pogba and Juan Mata in a desperate search for some inspiration.

Harry Maguire headed straight at Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster and Foster then palmed away a Pogba shot.

But they could not find a way through and will head north for Christmas in low spirits.

United have notched up some memorable results against the traditional top clubs this season, beating Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester City and drawing against Liverpool.

But they have struggled badly against some of the sides lower down the table and this result could be potentially fatal in their bid for a top-four spot.

The win for Watford lifts them to 12 points, level with 19th-placed Norwich, but still six points from safety.

AFP

Vardy Stars As Leicester Beat Watford

Leicester City’s English striker Jamie Vardy celebrates after scoring the opening goal from the penalty spot during the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Watford at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on December 4, 2019. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

Details coming shortly….

Alli Saves Spurs From Another Defeat To Bottom Club Watford

Tottenham Hotspur’s English midfielder Dele Alli (C) controls the ball during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Watford at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on January 1, 2019. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Dele Alli struck four minutes from time to prevent Tottenham suffering another demoralising Premier League defeat, but their struggles continued in a 1-1 draw with bottom-of-the-table Watford on Saturday.

The Hornets have still not won in the league since April and will rue a series of missed chances after Abdoulaye Doucoure put them in front after just six minutes.

Spurs seemed set for a third straight defeat after humiliating heavy losses to Bayern Munich and Brighton before the international break.

But a mix-up between Ben Foster and Kiko Femenia handed Alli an equaliser to at least salvage a point for last season’s Champions League finalists.

Mauricio Pochettino insisted prior to the game that he remained sure Spurs’ quality will eventually shine through this season.

But once again the Argentine again failed to rouse a response from his side as doubts over his ability to turn the tide in his sixth season in charge grow.

Tottenham have now won just three of their first 12 games in all competitions and, just like at Brighton a fortnight ago, they paid a heavy price for a slow start.

The match had barely started before Watford were forced into a substitution when Danny Welbeck hobbled off to be replaced by Gerard Deulofeu.

And Spurs were caught napping when play got back underway as Daryl Janmaat got in behind Danny Rose and crossed for Doucoure to apply the finish.

Impotent Spurs

After his exertions in a World Cup qualifier in North Korea for South Korea in midweek, Pochettino left Son Heung-min and club-record signing Tanguy Ndombele on the bench.

But Son’s spark was badly missed from an impotent Spurs before the break.

Indeed the hosts were fortunate to be just 1-0 down at half-time as Jan Vertonghen somehow escaped conceding a penalty for bringing down Deulofeu despite a VAR review.

Son was introduced for Davinson Sanchez at the break as Pochettino switched formation and he instantly offered more pace and directness to the Spurs’ attack.

His powerful drive from a narrow angle was tipped onto the bar by Foster on 50 minutes.

But in Tottenham’s search for an equaliser they were leaving huge gaps for the visitors to exploit on the counter-attack and Quique Sanchez Flores’s men lived to regret not at least doubling their advantage.

Serge Aurier’s last-ditch challenge denied Roberto Pereyra a simple chance after a purposeful burst from Deulofeu.

Doucoure then eased through the Spurs midfield before setting up Janmaat, who miscued his shot with the goal gaping.

Just as Tottenham seemed to be running out of ideas, Watford gifted them an equaliser when Foster collided with his own defender in Femenia and spilled the ball into the path of Alli, who swept the ball into an empty net for his first goal since January.

The visitors were infuriated as VAR checked the goal for a potential handball by Alli, but not a push by Harry Kane in the build-up.

Watford did at least withstand a late flurry from Tottenham to secure a point, but they remain rooted to the foot of the table.

AFP

Guardiola Salutes ‘Ruthless’ Man City After Eight-Goal Blitz

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola looks on during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Watford at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on September 21, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Pep Guardiola saluted Manchester City’s “ruthless” streak after they romped to a club record 8-0 Premier League demolition of hapless Watford on Saturday.

Guardiola was delighted that his team did not ease off after storming into a 5-0 lead in just 18 minutes at the Etihad Stadium.

It continued City’s impressive response following their shock 3-2 defeat at Norwich last weekend.

This memorable victory came three days after a 3-0 midweek Champions League win over Shakhtar Donetsk.

“What I like the most is normally when it’s 5-0 at half time the second half is not serious, it’s boring but we did the opposite and we were more aggressive and made a very good second half,” Guardiola said.

“We were ruthless in terms of five shots, five goals. Sometimes we shoot 25 times or 15 or 20 and you cannot do it.

“People still don’t understand, journalists, pundits, former players, losing games is part of life. Opponents always deserve respect.

“The same feeling I have now I had after Norwich so it was not a bad performance. We can lose the games but the important thing is the approach and the way you react as a team.”

Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores apologised to Hornets fans after his team collapsed to the heaviest league defeat in the club’s history.

They were 1-0 down after just 53 seconds, five down after 18 minutes and ended up lucky it was ‘only’ eight against a City side who looked as if they would score every time they attacked.

Bernardo Silva scored his first City hat-trick and the other goals came from David Silva, Sergio Aguero, Riyad Mahrez, Nicolas Otamendi and man-of-the-match Kevin De Bruyne.

Sanchez Flores, who was in charge of only his second game since his re-appointment as Hornets boss, said: “First of all, I would like to say sorry to the fans. We made a lot of mistakes. The result is very difficult but it is the consequence of mistakes in different ways.

“All the goals we conceded came from different things. And it is very difficult to play like this against Manchester City.”

 ‘Not normal’ 

Watford have now lost 12 consecutive games against City and conceded an embarrassing 46 goals.

Asked if his players have a mental block about facing Guardiola’s side, Sanchez Flores said: I don’t know what the mentality and psychology of the players is. But it’s true we have regularly conceded a lot of goals against City.”

The only disappointment for City was that they failed to equal the Premier League record win of 9-0 by Manchester United against Ipswich back in 1995.

Aguero missed several chances to ensure City set a new best score but he claimed the consolation of a personal record – his early penalty means he is the first player in the Premier League era to score in each of the first six games of a campaign.

Given the recent history of this fixture, it was no real surprise that City won – or by a sizeable margin.

After all, they had beaten the Hornets on the last 11 occasions they had met them in all competitions, including last season’s one-sided FA Cup final at Wembley when City ran out 6-0 winners.

But what was a surprise was the way the Watford collapsed so quickly and meekly.

It was the fastest time for a team to go 5-0 up in Premier League history.

“It is weird, it is not normal,” Guardiola said. “Five shots, five goals.

“In the same time we gave them two chances to score two goals that we were lucky in this time it didn’t happen when in the past it sometimes happened.

“But the quality of the players up front made the difference, so the quality that we have is a joy to watch.”

AFP

Bernardo Salutes ‘Unbelievable’ Man City After Watford Win

Manchester City’s Portuguese midfielder Bernardo Silva celebrates after he scores the team’s seventh goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Watford at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on September 21, 2019.
Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Bernardo Silva admitted Manchester City’s “unbelievable” 8-0 thrashing of Watford was motivated by a desire to erase the bitter taste of their shock defeat against Norwich.

City recorded their biggest ever top-flight victory thanks to Bernardo’s hat-trick and goals for Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Nicolas Otamendi, Riyad Mahrez and Kevin De Bruyne at a jubilant Etihad Stadium.

It was the perfect response from Pep Guardiola’s side after their shock 3-2 loss against Norwich last weekend.

That defeat has given the initiative to leaders Liverpool in the title race and Portugal playmaker Bernardo revealed City were desperate to make amends.

“We were unbelievable in the first 30 minutes, scored lots of goals and had control. After the Norwich defeat, it was great to give our fans the result and the performance,” Bernardo said.

“We aimed to keep it going in the second half. We didn’t want them to hurt us or score past us.

“Football is a hard game – I’ve won 8-0 today but I’ve lost plenty of times by five or four goals.

“It was a great performance, 8-0 says everything. It’s very good to get the three points after defeat at Norwich and I’m very happy with my first hat-trick of my career. My first match ball at home.”

City are now two points behind Liverpool, but Jurgen Klopp’s side can reopen a five-point lead if they win at Chelsea on Sunday.

After winning the domestic treble last term, Bernardo believes the ruthless nature of City’s win, which saw them keep their foot on the gas after scoring five goals in the first half, proves they still have the hunger for more silverware.

“All teams have good and bad moments, the way you react to the bad is the most important thing. Once again this team showed we want to fight for the Premier League and all the titles,” he said.

Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster said City’s superlative display was the best he had ever seen.

But he admitted the Hornets had failed to offer any kind of resistance in their heaviest ever defeat at any level of English football.

“It’s probably a bit of shock, embarrassment. I think we let ourselves down today,” Foster said.

“As a keeper coming to City and Liverpool, if you let five in 20 minutes you fear the worst, you think cricket scores.

“They are without doubt the best team I have ever played against. We were poor, didn’t lay a glove on them but at times it was breathtaking watching them.

“You come away to City and I’m not joking, you think if you keep it to two or three – they are so good. Them and Liverpool are a different level.”

AFP

Man City Demolish Watford After Shock Defeat At Norwich

Watford’s German-born Greek midfielder Jose Holebas (top) vies with Manchester City’s Spanish defender Angelino during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Watford at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on September 21, 2019.
Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Manchester City powered to their record Premier League win as the champions scored five times in the first half of an incredible 8-0 thrashing of Watford, while Leicester enjoyed a VAR-assisted 2-1 victory over Tottenham on Saturday.

Inspired by Bernardo Silva’s hat-trick, Pep Guardiola’s side ripped woeful Watford to pieces at the Etihad Stadium, eclipsing a 7-0 success against Norwich in 2013 which stood as their previous biggest top-flight win.

Although City fell one goal short of equalling the biggest Premier League margin of victory — Manchester United’s 9-0 demolition of Ipswich in 1995 — their swaggering display was the perfect way to erase the bitter taste from last weekend’s shock defeat at Norwich.

Second-placed City move to within two points of leaders Liverpool, who face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

City had crushed Watford 6-0 in last season’s FA Cup final and, with injury-plagued left-back Benjamin Mendy making his first start since April, they picked up where they left off at Wembley with a goal inside the first minute at the Etihad Stadium.

Kevin De Bruyne played a superb ball in from the right, leaving David Silva with the simple task of poking home from close range for his first goal of the season.

The champions doubled their lead in the seventh minute after Watford keeper Ben Foster conceded a penalty with a foul on Riyad Mahrez.

Sergio Aguero coolly slotted in the spot-kick for his eighth goal in six games this term, taking the Argentina striker to 100 home Premier League goals for City.

Guardiola had rested Raheem Sterling, but even without their star winger City were rampant and they made it three in the 12th minute when Mahrez’s free-kick hit Watford’s Tom Cleverley in the head and deflected past Foster.

Astonishingly, City scored again in the 15th minute, De Bruyne’s corner nodded on by Nicolas Otamendi for Bernardo to head home.

By the time Otamendi finished off Aguero’s cross in the 18th minute, City had established the fastest 5-0 lead in the Premier League era.

The joint biggest half-time lead in Premier League history wasn’t enough for City and Bernardo struck again with a close-range finish after another flowing move in the 48th minute.

Bernardo completed his first Premier League treble on the hour with a tap-in from De Bruyne’s cross.

De Bruyne set City’s new record mark in the Premier League when the Belgium midfielder scored the eighth in the 85th minute.

 Leicester on the rise 

At the King Power Stadium, Leicester proved their credentials to gatecrash the top four as they came from behind to beat Tottenham.

Harry’s Kane’s improvised 29th-minute opener as he stumbled before flicking home put Tottenham ahead.

However, the game swung Leicester’s way after Tottenham defender Serge Aurier’s goal midway through the second half was ruled out by the finest of margins for offside by VAR.

The hosts built on that lift immediately as Ricardo Pereira equalised before James Maddison struck the winner from long range five minutes from time.

“We’re six games in, we are not getting carried away,” said Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers. “We had a tough start but I’m so pleased with the players’ focus.”

By contrast, Tottenham have now won just two of their first seven games of the season in all competitions and Mauricio Pochettino admitted the VAR controversy had played a role in their latest flop.

Pochettino bemoaned the momentum swing given to Leicester by the long stoppage in play prior to Aurier’s strike being ruled out for an extremely marginal offside against Son Heung-min.

“The emotion of the game changed. The belief it gave to Leicester made things happen differently in the last 10 minutes,” Pochettino said.

“I’m only going to say that we all accept that system in the game and now I am not going to complain.”

Burnley beat Norwich 2-0 at Turf Moor, with New Zealand striker Chris Wood scoring in the 10th and 14th minutes.

Sheffield United piled pressure on Everton manager Marco Silva, whose side were booed off after a 2-0 defeat at Goodison Park, the damage done by Yerry Mina’s 40th-minute own goal and Lys Mousset’s 79th-minute strike.

AFP

Draw! Watford Fight Back From Two Goals To Hold Arsenal

Arsenal’s Brazilian defender David Luiz (C) jumps to defend a corner during the English Premier League football match between Watford and Arsenal at Vicarage Road Stadium in Watford, north of London on September 15, 2019. Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Quique Sanchez Flores enjoyed a happy return to Watford as Arsenal blew a 2-0 lead at Vicarage Road to draw 2-2 on Sunday.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looked to have the Gunners well on course for a comfortable three points when he struck twice in 11 minutes before the break.

However, Sanchez Flores, who was appointed as Hornets’ boss for the second time last week after one point from their opening four games of the season saw Javi Gracia sacked, roused the hosts for an impressive second-half fightback.

Arsenal played a huge part in their own downfall too as they gifted possesion away inside their own box for Tom Cleverley to pull a goal back before David Luiz upended Roberto Pereyra, who slotted home the resulting penalty.

A point sees Arsenal only move level with Manchester United, Tottenham, Chelsea and Leicester behind Liverpool and Manchester City in the early season battle for a top-four finish.

However, it is Watford who will feel they should even have gone onto win the game as Arsenal boss Unai Emery’s inability to find a balance between his brilliant attack and shoddy defence continued.

Emery recalled Mesut Ozil to his starting line-up for the first time since he and Sead Kolasinac were the victims of a carjacking attack in July.

Ozil initially struggled to settle as Watford started the brighter with Cleverley’s rising drive forcing Bernd Leno into a fine save before Jose Holebas fired horribly off-target with a great chance from the edge of the area.

However, Watford have now conceded 10 goals in their opening five games to the campaign and were opened up far too easily to allow Aubameyang to open the scoring on 21 minutes.

The home fans were screaming for a foul as Dani Ceballos won back possession, but Watford were slow to react as Kolasinac burst down the left and fed Aubameyang, who spun and fired low past Ben Foster.

Ozil was involved as a patient build-up from the visitors doubled their lead on 32 minutes.

At the end of a 20-pass move, Ozil freed Ainsley Maitland-Niles in behind the Watford defence and the right-back squared for Aubameyang to slot home his fifth goal in as many games this season.

Twice the visitors escaped gifting Watford a way back into the game when Matteo Guendouzi was caught in possession on the edge of his own box, trying to play out from the back.

But Arsenal did not learn their lesson and were finally punished when Sokratis Papastathopoulos gifted possession to Gerard Deulofeu and the Spaniard teed up Cleverley to shot low past Leno.

Watford were then in the ascendancy as Deulofeu curled just wide, Ismaila Sarr scuffed a great chance for his first goal in English football off target and Pereyra’s flicked finish flashed across goal.

They finally got the equaliser their second-half display deserved nine minutes from time when Pereyra was clipped by Luiz inside the box and the Argentine sent Leno the wrong way from the penalty spot.

Deulofeu sent another effort inches wide and Cleverley’s fierce drive was deflected over by Luiz as wave upon wave of Watford attack continued.

But is was Abdoulaye Doucoure who squandered the best chance of all for a winner deep into stoppage time when he shot too close to Leno with just the German goalkeeper to beat to leave Watford still bottom of the Premier League table.

AFP

Sanchez Flores Returns To Watford After Gracia Sacked

Head coach Quique Sanchez Flores of Shanghai Greenland Shenhua shouts instructions to his players as they compete against Chongqing SWM in their 12th round match during the 2019 Chinese Football Association Super League (CSL) in Shanghai, China, 1 June 2019. AFP

 

Quique Sanchez Flores has returned to the Watfordbench after Javi Gracia was sacked just four games into the season, the Premier League team announced on Saturday.

“Watford FC announces the appointment of Quique Sanchez Flores as the club’s new Head Coach,” the club said in a statement

Sanchez Flores previously took charge of Watford in the 2015-16 season as the Hornets finished 13th in the Premier League and reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

Dumped Gracia meanwhile had been a popular figure at Vicarage Road — guiding the club to 11th in the Premier League and a first FA Cup final for 35 years last season.

However, his team were blown away 6-0 by Manchester City at the Wembley final, and the 32-year-old has paid the price for picking up just one point from the first four league games of the new campaign.

“Javi has represented Watford with great dignity and will always be deserving of our fullest respect for his achievements,” said Watford Chairman and CEO Scott Duxbury.

AFP