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Bukayo Saka stars as Arsenal move into top four with Watford win

The Gunners were made to work for victory.

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Bukayo Saka starred with a goal and an assist as Arsenal moved into the top four with a 3-2 win at Watford (Adam Davy/PA)

Bukayo Saka starred with a goal and an assist as Arsenal moved into the top four with a 3-2 win at Watford (Adam Davy/PA)

Bukayo Saka starred with a goal and an assist as Arsenal moved into the top four with a 3-2 win at Watford (Adam Davy/PA)

Bukayo Saka scored one goal and set up another as Arsenal moved into the top four with a hard-fought 3-2 win at Watford.

The Gunners ensured they did not lose any ground in the battle for a Champions League spot in a match full of high-quality finishing at Vicarage Road.

Martin Odegaard gave the visitors an early lead, dutifully responding after boss Mikel Arteta had called on the Norway captain to add more goals to his game.

Cucho Hernandez equalised for Watford with an overhead-kick – arguably the pick of the goals – before Saka restored Arsenal’s advantage.

Having already set up Odegaard for his strike, the England international fired home after a well-worked one-two with Alexandre Lacazette.

Gabriel Martinelli capped an impressive Arsenal performance as he curled the ball past Ben Foster to make it 3-1.

The Gunners looked to be cruising before Moussa Sissoko pulled one back in the 87th minute, but the Hornets were unable to find an equaliser.

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Martin Odegaard opened the scoring (Adam Davy/PA)

Martin Odegaard opened the scoring (Adam Davy/PA)

Martin Odegaard opened the scoring (Adam Davy/PA)

The result lifts Arsenal one point above Manchester United ahead of Sunday’s Manchester derby, while Watford remain firmly in the bottom three, three points behind 17th-placed Everton.

Watford thought they had taken the lead inside the first 30 seconds when Emmanuel Dennis was played in behind the Arsenal defensive line and slotted home, but it was ruled out for offside.

However, at the other end it was Arsenal who took the lead in the fifth minute, Saka cutting the ball back to Odegaard who expertly slotted home for his fifth goal of the season.

The Gunners’ lead did not last long as Hernandez’ acrobatic volley equalised for Watford in the 11th minute.

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Cucho Hernandez (left) celebrates his overhead-kick (Adam Davy/PA)

Cucho Hernandez (left) celebrates his overhead-kick (Adam Davy/PA)

Cucho Hernandez (left) celebrates his overhead-kick (Adam Davy/PA)

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Kiko Femenia, on his return to the starting line-up, whipped in a cross and Hernandez found enough space for a bicycle-kick into the back of the net.

Thomas Partey had a chance to restore Arsenal’s lead after a number of chances in the area had been blocked and the ball fell to the 28-year-old but his curling effort was wide of the target.

Arsenal went back in front just after the half-hour with a cleverly-crafted goal from Saka.

He dispossessed Tom Cleverley before passing to Lacazette, who held the ball up then back-heeled the ball back to Saka who fired in.

Arsenal extended their advantage after half-time with another well-worked strike. Saka took a quick throw to allow Cedric Soares to run behind the backline. The ball was then cleverly worked to Martinelli who curled it into the net.

Cleverley had a chance to pull one back for the hosts after linking up with Dennis, but his effort was straight at Aaron Ramsdale, but Watford did pull one back with three minutes remaining.

Sissoko chested the ball down and beat defender Ben White before tapping it past Ramsdale to set up a nervous finish for the Gunners.

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