Arsenal’s final game of the season saw them run out 3-2 winners over Watford at the Emirates, a result which ended the visitor’s four-year stay in the Premier League.
The Gunners took the lead after just five minutes, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netting his 21st goal of the season from the penalty spot following a lengthy VAR deliberation over Craig Dawson’s push in the back on Alexandre Lacazette.
They doubled their lead midway through the first half, golden boot chasing Aubameyang unselfishly laying a Nicolas Pepe cross to Kieran Tierney, who simply passed the ball into the Watford net.
The Gabon international did get his second though just after the half-hour mark, taking advantage of some poor Watford defending as the Hornets failed to deal with a long throw, Aubameyang netting with an overhead kick from eight yards out.
Troy Deeney pulled a goal back for the visitors from the spot just before the break, before Danny Welbeck gave the managerless side a glimmer of hope, Ismaela Sarr drilling the ball across the box for the former Arsenal forward tuck home at the near post.
As it was though, Aston Villa’s 1-1 draw with West Ham at the London stadium meant only a win would have prevented Watford from slipping into the Championship, and speaking afterwards, Mikel Arteta reflected on ‘a crazy game’.
“It was a crazy game, right from the start,” Arteta said at his post match press conference. “The moment that we went one or 2-0 up you could sense that their front players were a bit ‘cheating’ and obviously even if they couldn’t finish the actions every time the counter was open, we allowed them too many balls in the box. This is where they are really dangerous.
“They had some really good quality moments with the ball in the final third, but we weren’t at the races without the ball, like we have been in the last few games.”
The Arsenal boss did clarify his comments about his definition of Watford’s ‘cheating’ though, Hayden Mullins’ side leaving players forward as they went in search of crucial goals.
“I mean that they stayed up front, because they know… more than cheating it’s more like gambling. Obviously it’s hard to control when you lose the ball or you don’t finish your actions. There were some open spaces and some mistakes, it was a little bit of a basketball game and there was not much control there.”
The result saw Arsenal finish the season in eighth, their lowest since 1995, though they do still have a chance to secure European football in next weekend’s FA Cup final against Chelsea.
“t will be a completely different game,” he said of the Wembley final. “First of all from the mental side it will be equal. How much they want it compared to how much we want it, I don’t think that was the case today because of the necessity they have, the way they had to approach the game was different to us and you can see that.”
“Hopefully [Saturday] will be very different.”