Arsenal defeats Watford 3-2 to move into top four of Premier League

Bukayo Saka starred as Arsenal beat struggling Watford 3-2 on Sunday to leapfrog Manchester United into fourth place in the Premier League.

Martin Odegaard opened the scoring for the visitors before Cucho Hernandez leveled with a stunning overhead kick minutes later, but England’s Saka restored Arsenal’s lead in an entertaining first half.

Despite a late goal from Moussa Sissoko, the Gunners held on for a crucial win thanks to Brazilian winger Gabriel Martinelli.

The win moved Mikel Arteta’s side into fourth place in the Premier League, one point ahead of Manchester United, who faced leaders Manchester City in the late kick-off.

Arteta, whose team started the season with three straight league defeats, said it was “very pleasing” to be in the top four, although he felt the win should have been more comfortable.

“We know how difficult it is to be in this position in this league,” he told Sky Sports. “We’ve earned it — we have come a long way as a team.”

Arteta was asked about the role he played in the build-up to Arsenal’s third goal — he grabbed the ball when it went out of play and quickly passed it to Saka, who launched the ultimately decisive move with a throw-in.

Arsenal jokingly awarded their manager an assist on their Twitter feed.

“I saw an advantage and I took it,” said Arteta. “We have to be alive and that is the way I live the game. I try to instil that in the team as well.”

– Early scare -Watford had the ball in the net a few seconds after kick-off but Emmanuel Dennis’s effort was ruled out for offside.

Arsenal settled quickly after their early fright and were in front in the fifth minute after neat work down the right, with Saka cutting back to Odegaard, who finished with his left foot.

But the Gunners’ advantage was cancelled out in the 11th minute when Colombian forward Hernandez produced an acrobatic overhead kick from near the penalty spot after a cross from Kiko Femenia.

Arsenal restored their advantage just after the half-hour mark with a cleverly crafted goal finished by the lively Saka.

The England man dispossessed Tom Cleverley just outside the Watford box before passing to Alexandre Lacazette, who held the ball up then backheeled it to Saka, who fired in.

Arsenal’s lead was extended early in the second half by Martinelli, who hammered home from the edge of the box after a nice layoff from Lacazette.

Despite Arsenal’s superiority, Watford remained a threat, and Dennis should have closed the gap but missed a chance at the far post with about 20 minutes remaining.

With 10 minutes remaining, Arsenal substitute Eddie Nketiah hit the crossbar before Sissoko gave the visitors a scare when he bundled the ball home in the 87th minute.

Arsenal are now strong favorites to finish in the top four and qualify for next season’s Champions League, a competition they haven’t participated in since the 2016/17 season.

They have 48 points after 25 games, one more than United, who has played two more games before the Manchester derby.

Watford, managed by Roy Hodgson, remain second from bottom of the Premier League table, three points from safety.

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