Arsene Wenger received a welcome boost as Arsenal eased a little of the pressure on their beleaguered boss with a 3-0 win over Watford yesterday.
After a wretched run left Wenger fighting to save his job, a 2-0 win at AC Milan in the Europa League on Thursday offered the Frenchman temporary respite from the torrent of abuse he has endured this season.
Maintaining the momentum from that last-16 victory in the San Siro, Wenger’s side ended a run of three successive Premier League defeats with a solid display at the Emirates Stadium.
Shkodran Mustafi’s early opener and a cool finish from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang put them in control.
In a moment of sweet vindication, Watford captain Troy Deeney, who had questioned Arsenal’s spirit earlier this season, had a second-half penalty saved by Petr Cech.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s strike wrapped up the points, but there was concern for Wenger as Mustafi limped off in the closing stages.
Arsenal, who had lost eight of their previous 14 matches in all competitions, remain in sixth place and trail fourth-placed Tottenham by 10 points ahead of their rivals’ trip to Bournemouth later on Sunday.
Winning the Europa League guarantees qualification for next season’s Champions League and, with Arsenal’s hopes of achieving that goal via a top-four finish looking bleak, it was no surprise Wenger prioritised the continental competition.