Watford 2 - 3 Arsenal: 5 talking points as Gunners secure key victory in top 4 race | Premier League 2021-22

Arsenal leapfrog Manchester United to go fourth
Arsenal leapfrog Manchester United to go fourth

There is confidence in every Arsenal player that they are capable of finishing in the top four this season. Mikel Arteta and his team are now a step closer to finishing in the top four after holding onto a narrow victory over Watford at Vicarage Road, and while Roy Hodgson's side fought hard, they were outclassed by the visitors and face an increased likelihood of getting relegated.

To the surprise of many fans, the Hornets started the game brilliantly, showing aggression and willingness to run after every ball. Unfortunately for them, individual brilliant performances from Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka consigned Watford to a 1-2 scoreline at half-time.

Not long after the restart, Gabriel Martinelli extended the Gunners' lead to two goals. Despite victory looking in sight for the North Londoners, Hodgson's men gave their everything and made things difficult for their opponents. Here are five talking points from the tight contest.

#5 Arsenal boast one of the best groups of young players

Bukayo Saka scored and provided an assist against Watford
Bukayo Saka scored and provided an assist against Watford

Despite the absence of Emile Smith Rowe, Arsenal's top goalscorer this season, Odegaard and Saka stole the show against the Hornets.

After a nervy start from the Gunners, the Norwegian broke the deadlock in the fifth minute thanks to an assist from Saka. The goal immediately brought a sense of calmness and belief to the team that they can bring home all three points.

Not long after, Watford equalised and the home fans' support for their team grew more and more. This time around, Saka stepped up. Combining brilliantly with Alexandre Lacazette, the 20-year-old restored Arsenal's advantage in the 30th minute as Ben Foster was caught wrong-footed. According to Sky Sports, Saka has contributed 13 goals and assists in the EPL, more than any other player below 21.

The Gunners have consistently named the youngest starting XIs in the Premier League this campaign. With 48 points from 25 matches, this young and talented squad is showing no signs of slowing down.

Saka and Ødegaard are the present and future of Arsenal. Two big, big talents 👏🏻🔥

#4 Watford's home record detrimental to their relegation battle

Watford's propensity to concede is hurting their chances of survival
Watford's propensity to concede is hurting their chances of survival

Watford have conceded nine goals in their last three home games while keeping clean sheets in their last two away matches against Aston Villa and Manchester United. This is a key area Hodgson needs to work on for his side to remain in the Premier League next season.

The Hornets' forwards, most notably Emmanuel Dennis and Cucho Hernandez, posed a huge threat to the Arsenal backline throughout the full 90 minutes. The team's passes and crosses were equally promising as they managed five shots on target, two more than the Gunners.

However, their poor defensive record is costing them, with only Norwich City and Leeds United having conceded more goals than Watford. The next two matches will see Hodgson's side travel to face Wolverhampton Wanderers and Southampton, and hopefully, they can get some positive results.

#3 Arsenal charge towards top four

Gabriel scored after the break
Gabriel scored after the break

Riding on a four-game winning streak, Arsenal find themselves in a comfortable position to finish fourth in the Premier League. Their opponents such as Wolves, West Ham United and Manchester United have also done the Gunners a huge favor in recent weeks, dropping more points than anticipated.

Although the Londoners are due to face Leicester City, in-form Liverpool, and a revitalized Aston Villa next week, they have three games in hand over the Red Devils, who are fifth at the moment.

With Manchester United losing against Manchester City, it only solidifies the Gunners' chances of qualifying for next season's UEFA Champions League.

#2 Arsenal's poor defending almost costs them

Watford enjoyed more shots on target than Arsenal
Watford enjoyed more shots on target than Arsenal

The game against Watford was a much closer and tighter one than the Arsenal faithful would have expected.

When Dennis put the ball into the net as early as 17 seconds into the game albeit it being offside, there were already early signs that the Arsenal defenders might not be at the top of their game. Gabriel gave away a free-kick in a dangerous position in the first half and Ben White's sloppy defending allowed Moussa Sissoko to score the Hornets' second goal.

When the full-time whistle was blown, Arteta looked extremely relieved that his side didn't concede more because to Watford's credit, they never stopped trying despite the scoreline. In 90 minutes, the Hornets produced 13 shots and seven of them were on target, while the Gunners only had four shots on target. Certainly, more work needs to be done as Aaron Ramsdale has failed to keep a clean sheet in the last three games.

Three absolutely amazing goals from us, but obviously lessons to be learned from the ones we conceded. That was more tense than it needed to be, but winning all important today.Into the top four now, four wins in a row.I like the momentum!

#1 Alexandre Lacazette continues to play an important role

Lacazette is approaching the end of his contract at Arsenal
Lacazette is approaching the end of his contract at Arsenal

Lacazette might have suffered a goal drought in the past few months but there is no doubt that he is still playing a vital role in the team.

Since Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's departure from the club, the French forward has started the last 11 Premier League matches even though he last scored a goal in December 2021. Lacazette's scoring statistics look less than impressive. However, during the same period, the captain has provided seven assists and is proving to be a key link between his teammates.

The 30-year-old's contract with the Gunners expires this summer and the chances of him signing a new deal look increasingly bleak. Still, Lacazette's commitment to helping Arsenal is laudable and deserves recognition.

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Edited by Ashwin
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