Bukayo Saka scored and set up another as Arsenal moved into the top four with a hard-fought 3-2 win at Watford.
The Gunners made sure they didn’t lose ground in the fight for a Champions League spot in a game packed with high-profile finishers at Vicarage Road.
Martin Odegaard gave the visitors an early lead and dutifully responded after head coach Mikel Arteta urged the Norway captain to add more goals to his game.
Cucho Hernandez equalized for Watford with an overhead kick – arguably the choice of goals – before Saka restored Arsenal’s advantage.
The England international, who had already set up Odegaard for his goal, shot home after a successful one-two with Alexandre Lacazette.
Gabriel Martinelli capped off an impressive Arsenal performance as he circled the ball past Ben Foster to make it 3-1.
The Gunners seemed to be in full swing before Moussa Sissoko pulled one back in the 87th minute, but the Hornets couldn’t find an equalizer.
The result lifts Arsenal a point above Manchester United ahead of Sunday’s Manchester derby, while Watford remains firmly in the bottom three, three points adrift of 17th-placed Everton.
Watford thought they had taken the lead within the first 30 seconds when Emmanuel Dennis was brought in from behind Arsenal’s defense and brought home, but it was ruled out for offside.
At the other end, however, it was Arsenal who took the lead in the fifth minute, Saka clipping the ball back to Odegaard who skillfully scored his fifth goal of the season.
The Gunners’ lead didn’t last long as Hernandez’s acrobatic volley equalized for Watford in the 11th minute.
Kiko Femenia, on his return to the starting line-up, whipped in a cross and Hernandez found enough space for an overhead kick into the back net.
Thomas Partey had a chance to restore Arsenal’s lead after a number of chances were blocked in the box and the ball fell on the 28-year-old, but his shot went wide.
Arsenal regained the lead just after the half-hour with a cleverly designed goal from Saka.
He disowned Tom Cleverley before passing to Lacazette, who held the ball up and flicked the ball back to Saka, who kicked in.
Arsenal extended their lead after half-time with another well-crafted goal. Saka threw a quick shot to allow Cedric Soares to run behind the defensive line. The ball was then deftly worked to Martinelli, who curled it into the net.
Cleverley had a chance to pull one back for the hosts after connecting with Dennis but his attempt was aimed squarely at Aaron Ramsdale but Watford pulled one back with three minutes to go.
Sissoko chested the ball down and punched defenseman Ben White before tapping it past Ramsdale to set up a nervous finish for the Gunners.
https://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/bukayo-saka-stars-as-arsenal-move-into-top-four-with-watford-win-41417291.html Bukayo Saka is the star as Arsenal climb into the top four with Watford win