Arsenal 1 Watford 0: Gunners blasted over 'unsporting' Smith-Rowe goal after refusing to give ball back following injury

ARSENAL beat Watford in controversial circumstances with the only goal of the game being scored in an unsporting manner.

Watford's Danny Rose kicked the ball out of play due to an injury to team-mate Ozan Tufan but Arsenal did not return possession back to them.

Alexandre Lacazette threw the ball to Takehiro Tomiyasu who continued to play on despite Ismaila Sarr also going down.

And when Emile Smith Rowe found the bottom corner moments later Watford were up in arms, with Moussa Sissoko also complaining that Ainsley Maitland-Niles had committed a foul.

Claudio Ranieri was clearly unhappy with the manner of Arsenal's winner and exchanged some angry words with Mikel Arteta.

And fans watching at home were not impressed either, with one writing on Twitter: "What on Earth was that? Arsenal just being ridiculously unsporting??????"

Another added: "Wait so rose kicks it out of play for their injured player to get treatment and arsenal take the throw in and score from it. Including the dirtiest obstruction from AMN. Typical Arsenal man. Dirty cheating club."

A third said: "That's such a BS goal. Arsenal should have given the ball back on the throw and Sarr was CLATTERED in the build-up. Sissoko is right to tell them off."


But the goal stood and Arsenal maintained their brilliant run of form which has stretched to ten matches unbeaten.

Smith Rowe’s 56th-minute goal was just about enough to see off a struggling Watford team who were reduced to ten men late on when Juraj Kucka picked up a second yellow card.

It meant the Gunners were able to see out the six minutes of added time relatively untroubled despite making such hard work of securing all three points.

They should have been ahead as early as the eighth minute when Ben Foster could only palm Lacazette’s attempted chip into the path of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

But the skipper’s first touch was poor and although Bukayo Saka was able to prod the loose ball home, VAR confirmed that he was offside.

And if Arsenal thought this was going to be a straightforward stroll in the autumn sunshine, Watford clearly had other ideas.

Ranieri’s men were clearly under orders to disrupt their opponents’ rhythm by any means possible as they chased down every ball like men possessed.

Referee Kevin Friend was struggling to keep on top of the battles breaking out all across the pitch.

And no-one was winding up the Emirates crowd more than former Spurs full-back Danny Rose making the 200th Premier League appearance of his career.

The veteran defender was giving absolutely no quarter in his duel with Saka and wasn’t going to let a few angry Gooners put him off his mission.

But he took his defiance a step too far in the 34th when he wiped out Lacazette with a wild challenge as they chased a wayward shot from Maitland-Niles.

Friend didn’t seem convinced initially, but eventually pointed to the spot after getting the nod from his assistant.

But Aubameyang’s penalty was not the best and Foster was able to stick out a giant hand to save as he plunged to his right.

The former England keeper might be the oldest player in the Premier League at 38, but his reflexes remain as sharp as ever.

Two minutes before the break he was breaking Arsenal hearts again when he saved Gabriel’s firm downward header with his feet from close range.

And with his team-mates putting their bodies on the line to keep Arsenal bay, Watford suddenly started to fancy their chances of spoiling Areteta’s big day.

But those hopes were dashed 11 minutes into the second-half when Foster’s resistance was finally broken by Smith Rowe’s third consecutive League goal.

Sarr and Kucka were both unable to clear their lines as Ben White looked to barrel his way through the massed ranks of the Watford defence.

And when the ball broke invitingly for Smith Rowe on the edge of the area, the youngster did not hesitate to sweep his shot beyond Foster with the aid of the slightest of deflections off Nicolas Nkoulou.

Watford were convinced that Sarr had been fouled by Maitland-Niles in the build-up to the goal but they were clutching at straws and VAR Jarred Gillett was having none of it.

They should have fallen further behind when Martin Odegaard hit the target again in the 73rd minute, but Aubameyang needlessly dived in to steer the ball over the line with his studs from an offside position.

It was a brain freeze which could have cost Arsenal dear when keeper Aaron Ramsdale raced out his area to clear but completely missed the ball.

Fortunately for him, Jose King was unable to squeeze his 86th minute into the unprotected goal from the tightest of angles.

This is not the first time Arsenal have gone ten games unbeaten under Arteta nor even their highest League position under his management.

But somehow this feels different and just maybe this is not going to be yet another false dawn at the Emirates.

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