Bukayo Saka shone as Arsenal on Sunday as they leapt from Manchester United to the top four of the Premier League with a 3-2 win over struggling Watford. Martin Odegaard struck early for the visitors before Cucho Hernandez equalized minutes later with a beautiful overhead kick. England international Saka put Arsenal ahead again after half an hour and Brazilian winger Gabriel Martinelli increased the visitors’ lead early in the second half. A late goal by Moussa Sissoko against the course of the game gave Watford hope, but the Gunners held out for a crucial win.
The win lifts Mikel Arteta’s men to fourth in the Premier League, one point ahead of United, who come into action in the later kick-off against league leaders Manchester City.
Watford had the ball in the net seconds after kick-off, but an attempt by Emmanuel Dennis was disallowed for offside.
Arsenal settled quickly after their early scare and were up front in the fifth minute after some fine work on the right, with Saka cutting back to Odegaard, who finished with his left foot.
But the Gunners’ advantage was wiped out in the 11th minute when Hernandez delivered an acrobatic overhead kick from close range on the penalty spot after a cross from Kiko Femenia.
Arsenal regained their lead just after half an hour with a cleverly made goal from Saka.
The England man drove Tom Cleverley just outside Watford’s penalty area before moving on to Alexandre Lacazette, who held the ball up and then shoved the ball back to Saka with his heels, who fired in.
Arsenal extended their lead early in the second half with a glorious third strike by Martinelli, who drove in the single from the edge of the penalty area after a neat stoppage by Lacazette.
Watford still presented a threat despite Arsenal’s superiority and Denis should have narrowed the gap but missed a chance at the far post with around 20 minutes to go.
Arsenal substitute Eddie Nketiah hit woodwork with 10 minutes to go and Sissoko gave the visitors a late scare as he bundled the ball home in the 87th minute.
The win makes Arsenal strong favorites to finish in the top four and qualify for next season’s Champions League – a competition they haven’t played since the 2016-17 season.
They have 48 points after 25 games, one ahead of United, who had played two more games before the Manchester derby.
Roy Hodgson’s Watford remains second from the bottom of the Premier League table, three points away from safety.
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