Emile Smith Rowe’s second half strike saw Arsenal edge out a resolute Watford side to extend their unbeaten run in the Premier League to eight matches in Mikel Arteta’s 100th game in charge.
It was a frustrating first half for the Gunners who were denied an opener on two separate occasions. Bukayo Saka’s close-range finish was ruled out for offside before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang saw his penalty well saved by Ben Foster.
Arsenal continued to probe and were rewarded for their patience when Smith Rowe beautifully guided a right-footed effort beyond a helpless Foster to send the Gunners fans into raptures.
Watford stood firm and made Arsenal work for the three points, but an equaliser eluded them while Juraj Kucka was shown a late red card, meaning Arteta will remember his 100th game in charge for all the right reasons.
The Premier League takes a break this coming fortnight as the players head out on international duty. Upon their return on Saturday 20th November, Arsenal face a trip to Liverpool while Watford welcome Manchester United to Vicarage Road.
Talking Point – Saviour Smith Rowe
Arteta has placed his faith in young talent during his time as Arsenal manager. One man who has repaid this faith in full is Emile Smith Rowe. The 21-year-old is loving life in an Arsenal shirt and was there in the right place at the right time to score what turned out to be the winning goal for the Gunners. He combined with fellow young starlet Bukayo Saka on several occasions, a partnership and understanding that is really beginning to flourish, as Arsenal appear to have found their mojo.
‘We are the most honest’ – Arteta responds after Ranieri questions Arsenal winner
Man of the Match – Ainsley Maitland-Niles
Many eyes will have been on Ainsley Maitland-Niles this afternoon, the only change to the starting 11 who won at Leicester last weekend. The 24-year-old was on the verge of leaving the Emirates but has managed to force his way back into Arteta’s plans and showed his worth with a solid all-round display. In the first half he made the most ball recoveries, most tackles and most interceptions contributing to another clean sheet as Arsenal continued their defensive solidity.
Bukayo Saka of Arsenal scores their side's first goal past Ben Foster of Watford FC which was later ruled offside by VAR during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Watford at Emirates Stadium
Image credit: Getty Images
Arsenal: Ramsdale 7, Tomiyasu 7, White 8, Gabriel 7, Tavares 7, Maitland-Niles 8, Saka 8, Lokonga 6, Smith Rowe 8, Lacazette 7, Aubameyang 7.
Subs: Elneny 5, Odegaard 6, Martinelli 5.
Watford: Foster 7, Rose 5, King 6, Nkoulou 6, Cathcart 6, Toufan 6, Sissoko 6, Femenia 6, Sarr 6, Dennis 6, Kucka 5.
Subs: Joao Pedro 6, Fletcher 5, Hernandez 6.
8’ DISALLOWED GOAL! Arsenal thought they had taken the lead courtesy of Saka who tucks the ball home from close range. However, VAR have ruled it out for offside! Watford are let off the hook and will look to reset. Arsenal are left frustrated; their celebrations are swiftly cut short.
33’ PENALTY TO ARSENAL! Rose has clattered into Lacazette in a very clumsy challenge, one you may refer to as a clothesline! Kevin Friend takes a moment and then points to the spot! Arsenal have an opportunity to take the lead and of course, it's Aubameyang to take the kick…
35’ SAVED! Aubameyang goes for power but Foster pulls off an excellent stop to deny the Arsenal forward. The game remains goalless and it's a chance gone begging for the Gunners who are denied once again, this time by the outstretched frame of Foster.
56’ GOAL! Arsenal 1-0 Watford. It's been coming and here it is, Arsenal have broken the deadlock and it's Smith Rowe who bags it! White is challenged on the edge of the box, the loose ball breaks for Smith Rowe who expertly guides the ball into the bottom corner beyond a helpless Foster. Advantage to the Gunners!
73’ DISALLOWED GOAL! Arsenal have the ball in the back of the net but once again, they are denied by the offside flag! Odegaard's effort may have been heading in, but Aubameyang got a touch to make sure however, he was in an offside position and it remains 1-0!
88’ RED CARD! Watford are down to ten men! Kucka receives a second yellow card for a forceful challenge on Tavares, which may spell the end for Watford's hopes of an equaliser.
90 + 6’ FULL TIME! Arsenal 1-0 Watford. It's all over at the Emirates! Arteta celebrates his 100th game in charge of Arsenal with a hard-fought victory over a stubborn Watford side thanks to Smith Rowe's second half strike. Arsenal extend their unbeaten run in the Premier League to eight matches. Watford can take heart from a spirited display away against in-form opponents.
Aged 38 years and 218 days, Ben Foster is the oldest goalkeeper to save a Premier League penalty since Shay Given for Stoke against Everton in August 2016 (40y 129d)
Ainsley Maitland-Niles replaced the injured Thomas Partey in the only change to Arsenal’s starting eleven today. He made the most ball recoveries, most tackles and most interceptions in the first half.
Emile Smith Rowe is only the fourth player to score in three consecutive Premier League appearances when aged 21 or younger for Arsenal.
Aaron Ramsdale has now kept more clean sheets (5) than he has conceded goals (4) in the Premier League for Arsenal.