Emery rues lack of control despite freakish winner

Arsenal's Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang enjoying his trademark somersault after scoring in the English Premier League against Watford at Vicarage Road Stadium. It was the game's only goal. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Arsenal's Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang enjoying his trademark somersault after scoring in the English Premier League against Watford at Vicarage Road Stadium. It was the game's only goal. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Arsenal manager Unai Emery admitted he was unhappy with his side's performance, despite a bizarre 10th-minute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang goal giving them a 1-0 win at Watford which boosted their hopes of a top-four finish in the Premier League.

The result on Monday lifted the Gunners two places up to fourth on 66 points from 33 games, one behind third-placed Tottenham.

Arsenal are ahead of fifth-placed Chelsea, who have played a game more, on goal difference. Watford stayed 10th with 46 points.

"We were competitive today but in the circumstances we can control the match better. We didn't make it easy to score the second goal. We did not control the ball in the attacking third," Emery said.

"We didn't control the match like I wanted. The team was anxious... The most important for us is to score the second goal, which we didn't do."

The Spaniard was, however, pleased with his team's first away clean sheet of the season.

"A clean sheet is very important," he told the BBC.

"It is going to give us a lot of information, this match. Our analysis will give us confidence."

  • 1st

  • Away clean sheet of the season for Arsenal.

The fast-paced clash took a decisive turn in a frantic one-minute spell early on, as Aubameyang found the back of the net in unlikely fashion before Watford striker Troy Deeney was shown a straight red for elbowing Lucas Torreira.

The home side's goalkeeper Ben Foster dwelled on Daryl Janmaat's back pass for too long, allowing Aubameyang to close him down and block his attempted goalmouth clearance as the ball ricocheted into the back of the net.

Foster made no excuses for his howler. "I've said sorry to the lads," he said. "I tried to drag it on to my left and pass it out but before I knew it Aubameyang was bloody on me. He is too quick.

"In hindsight you have to get rid (of the ball) as quick as you can, even if it goes into row Z."

Despite their numerical disadvantage, Watford kept pressing and missed a string of chances to draw level, having twice been denied by the woodwork as well as by some good saves from Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

Watford manager Marco Silva praised his team for their fighting spirit in the face of adversity.

"We did a lot of things to try to win, a big effort," he said.

"We didn't get any points but we played well. It was a difficult game with 10 men... maybe a yellow card but (a) red card, I don't understand why the referee did it."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 17, 2019, with the headline 'Emery rues lack of control despite freakish winner'. Print Edition | Subscribe