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  • By Yann Tear at Vicarage Road

More home woes leave Hodgson's Hornets deeper in mire, as Arsenal move up to coveted fourth place

Watford (1) 2 Hernandez 11, Sissoko 87

Arsenal (2) 3 Odegaard 5, Saka 30, Martinelli 52

When this season’s obituary comes to be written, it’s a fair bet that their Vicarage Road form will feature prominently in the reckoning of where it all went wrong for Watford, should relegation come to pass.

And after this, an eighth successive home loss, the chances are that it will.

There has been no win on home soil since that unlikely 4-1 triumph against Man United in November and only two in all, compared to 11 defeats. They cannot expect to survive with a record like that.

Roy Hodgson has tightened the leaky defence and the Hornets are far more competitive on the road, but it continues to be a disaster in their back yard.

The former England boss is already running out of time, with 11 to play and effectively four points from safety.

His team had the ball in the net after just 16 seconds, inspiring hopes that they might bring an end to a wretched run. But Emmanuel Dennis was adjudged offside.

Soon, the Gunners were ahead, when the game’s outstanding talent, Bukayo Saka, waltzed in from the right to set up Martin Odegaard for a crisp low shot across Ben Foster and into the far bottom corner.

There was a wonderful response on 11 minutes when Cucho Hernandez – whose fabulous strike against Aston Villa on the opening weekend had raised hopes of a far better season - equalised with a spectacular bicycle kick from a fine cross by the overlapping Kiko Femenia.

But Arsenal regained the lead when Saka picked the pocket of a dithering Tom Cleverley and played a one-two with Alexandre Lacazette before rifling home.

A classy goal from Gabriel Martinelli seven minutes into the second half virtually settled it. It came from a quick throw-in on the right, with Odegaard and Lacazette combining smartly to create the opening and Martinelli striking crisply from 18 yards.

Watford’s gloom is in stark contrast to the Gunners, who moved up to fourth after this win – at least for a while ahead of the Manchester derby.

They may not always convince, but they have no cup distractions and every hope of making it to the Champions League for the first time since 2017.

Eddie Nketiah came on and struck a post. Watford made a few chances of their own and Moussa Sissoko's persistence - getting the better of Ben White inside the area - pulled back a late goal. But it was not enough for the Hornets.

Hornets: (4-3-3) Foster – Femenia, Cathcart, Samir, Kamara – Sissoko, Louza (Kayembe 64), Cleverley (Kalu 90) – Hernandez, Dennis, Joao Pedro. Subs not used: Bachmann, Etebo, Masina, Sema, Kabasele, Sierralta, Kucka

Gunners: (4-3-3) Ramsdale – Soares, White, Gabriel, Tierney – Odegaard (Holding 90), Partey, Xhaka – Saka, Lacazette (Nketiah 79), Martinelli (Pepe 73). Subs not used: Leno, Tavares, Sambi Lokongo, Elneny, Swanson, Hutchinson


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