Arsenal’s unbeaten run continued as an Emile Smith Rowe strike clinched a hard-fought 1-0 win over Watford at the Emirates on Sunday.
The in-form Gunners thought they’d made the perfect start inside seven minutes against the newly-promoted side, albeit with Bukayo Saka seeing his effort disallowed for offside following a VAR review, after some initial shaky defending from the Hornets backline.
The hosts’ dominant opening looked set to eventually be rewarded midway through the first-half as former Tottenham Hotspur defender Danny Rose clumsily fouled Alexandre Lacazette inside the area, only for skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to see his spot-kick superbly denied by veteran stopper Ben Foster.
The Englishman then produced more heroics to keep out Gabriel’s downward header from point-blank range just before the break, with the visitors having seen summer signing Juraj Kucka put his effort wide just minutes earlier after a rare Watford attack.
Level at the interval, the game’s opening goal eventually came just ten minutes into the second-half, young starlet Smith Rowe netting for the third successive Premier League game after lashing home from just outside the area.
Mikel Arteta’s men were then denied a second – again for offside – as a sliding Aubameyang got on the end of substitute Martin Odegaard’s drilled effort, albeit with the strike likely to have gone in without the Gabon international’s intervention, much to the frustration of his teammate.
That missed opportunity almost proved costly as the battling visitors so nearly found themselves level, former Everton man Josh King sliding his effort into the side netting from the angle after a rush of blood to the head from Aaron Ramsdale allowed the Norwegian a chance on goal.
Any lingering hopes of a comeback were then ended after the ever-tenacious Kucka was dismissed for a second yellow card following a brutal challenge on Nuno Tavares, with the impressive Foster preventing any further damage after beating away Albert Sambi Lokonga’s fierce strike.
That proved to be that as the home side saw the game out to clinch a fourth successive win in all competitions to move up to fifth in the table, with matchwinner Smith Rowe ‘happy’ to have helped his side secure victory to stretch their unbeaten run to ten games.
“It was a difficult game for us today. Watford are a strong team. Happy we got the three points,” Smith-Rowe told Sky Sports.
“I am happy [to score] I have been practicing during training. It is really special and doing it at home and in front of our fans is even better.
“We have been working really hard, really important we got three points today.
“I think we always believed in ourselves and each other. It was just about coming together as a team and we are such a family.”
With the international break to come, Arsenal are not in action again until they take on Liverpool on Saturday 20 November.