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Arsenal in bullish mood as they close in on top four

FOOTBALL By Reuters | November 8th 2021

Arsenal v Watford - Emirates Stadium, London, Britain - November 7, 2021 Arsenal's Bukayo Saka celebrates scoring a goal with Emile Smith Rowe, that is later disallowed following a VAR review [Reuters, Andrew Couldridge]

Arsenal closed in on the Premier League top four after a second-half goal from Emile Smith-Rowe gave them a 1-0 home win over Watford yesterday in manager Mikael Arteta's 100th league and cup game in charge.

Smith-Rowe netted Arsenal's 100th league goal under Arteta as he drilled in a low shot from 18 metres after striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had missed a first half penalty for the home side, who also had two goals ruled out for offside.

Bukayo Saka's early effort was disallowed and Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster smothered Aubameyang's 35th-minute spot kick before he also kept out a close-range Gabriel header with a superb reflex save.

But Foster was powerless in the 56th minute when Arsenal defender Ben White surged forward after winning possession in midfield and teed up Smith-Rowe, who found the back of the net with a first-time shot.

Aubameyang had a 73rd-minute goal chalked off and Joshua King missed Watford's solitary chance in the 86th before the visitors had Juraj Kucka sent off for a second yellow card after he fouled Arsenal's left back Nuno Tavares.

Meanwhile, Aston Villa's Dean Smith became the third Premier League manager sacked this week as the club confirmed his departure yesterday after a run of five successive defeats.

"Aston Villa Football Club can confirm that the club have parted company with head coach Dean Smith," Villa said in a statement, two days after a 1-0 defeat at Southampton.

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