By Juan Aguerrevere
Monday's lone fixture featured Watford hosting Arsenal. And it turned out to be a peculiar one. The strange chain of events started ahead of the game when Watford's manager, Javi Gracia expressed that captain Troy Deeney is England's best no. 9.
"There are good English players in that position, but in my opinion, Troy is the best one," said Gracia.
Coming of a stunning FA Cup semi-final comeback against Wolverhampton last weekend, Gracia had to make some changes in the line-up. Ben Foster, Daryl Janmaat, and Adam Masina returned, while Roberto Pereyra (hip) and Gerard Deulopheu (ankle) missed the game due to injury.
Arsenal played last Thursday, beating Napoli at home in their Europa League quarter-final first leg. Concerns over the Gunners' recent away form (1W, 1D, 3L) was their main worry before the game.
The Hornets swarmed the Gunners in the opening minutes of play. German goalkeeper Bernd Leno was pressed by Andre Gray and was just fast enough to release the ball for a throw-in before being robbed.
Things were looking fine for Watford until Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang chased down a horizontal pass directed to Foster. Watford's goalkeeper wasn’t able clear his lines the way Leno did a few minutes before. Arsenal's ace, Aubameyang, was able to block Foster’s clearance right into the net.
A minute later, in a late challenge Deeney clashed with Lucas Torreira. Craig Pawson, the center referee, was alerted to a high elbow from Deeney by one of his assistants. Deeney was sent off for this infringement. And Pawson became public enemy number 1 at Vicarage Road after leaving Watford crippled for the remaining 80 minutes.
Shortly after the break, Henrikh Mkhitaryan's close-range effort was denied by Foster before Adam Masina cracked a long shot against the crossbar on the other end.
Attempts from Andre Gray and Will Hughes came close to drawing Watford level. But the North London team was able to find its first away clean sheet of the season and take back fourth place.
Watford faces Huddersfield on Saturday hoping to keep adding points to its already best Premier League season ever.
Juan is a senior at the University of Florida. He is an aspiring sports writer, analyst, and commentator.