Watford slip into bottom three after thrashing by Man City
Watford’s hopes of avoiding relegation suffered a double blow on Tuesday when they were thrashed 4-0 at home by Manchester City and then slipped into the Premier League relegation zone after fellow strugglers Aston Villa beat Arsenal in the late game.
City were inspired by Raheem Sterling who struck twice before halftime at Vicarage Road while Phil Foden and Aymeric Laporte scored after the break as the visitors racked up their 13th straight win over Watford in all competitions.
The previous two meetings between the sides resulted in an 8-0 home league win for Pep Guardiola’s City side in September and a 6-0 victory in last year’s FA Cup final.
Watford’s only consolation was that the scoreline could have been even worse on Tuesday, although with Villa beating visiting Arsenal 1-0, their fate is no longer in their hands.
Watford are level on 34 points with Villa but have dropped below them into the relegation zone on goal difference. Second-bottom Bournemouth have 31 points but could still escape.
Watford face Arsenal away in their final game on Sunday when Villa, who have the better goal difference by one, visit West Ham United. Bournemouth travel to Everton knowing they must win and hope the other two lose to have a chance of staying up.
Hayden Mullins, in temporary charge of Watford following the sacking of manager Nigel Pearson on Sunday, watched powerless from the touchline as City went through their routines.
“It was always going to be a tough ask, we knew that. They are a great side with a great manager,” Mullins said.
“City do this to most teams. The minute you come out and give space they take advantage of it.
“Tomorrow we will look at the performance more, put it to bed and start looking at the next game.”
Watford did have an early chance when Will Hughes slashed a shot miles wide, but it was mainly one-way traffic.
Sterling opened the scoring after 30 minutes with a stunning strike. Controlling Kyle Walker’s driven pass instantly, he looked up and smashed a right-foot effort past Ben Foster.
The England forward doubled City’s lead when he fooled Hughes into a trip inside the area and although Foster saved his spot kick, the rebound fell kindly and Sterling touched the ball home for his 19th league goal of the season.
City, beaten by Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-final on Saturday, hunted for more goals after the break and Foster performed heroics to deny Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne.
He made another save from Sterling in the 63rd minute only for the ball to fall to Foden who tapped it home.
When Laporte headed in a free kick shortly afterwards Watford were reeling, but they avoided any further punishment and had a stroke of luck, that could yet prove crucial, when Gabriel Jesus’s late header was ruled out for offside.
Trezeguet goal moves Villa out of bottom three
Aston Villa moved out of the Premier League relegation zone with one match remaining as Trezeguet’s first-half goal earned them a potentially priceless 1-0 victory over Arsenal on Tuesday.
The Egyptian midfielder blasted home in the 27th minute and it proved enough for Villa to move above Watford on goal difference after they were thrashed by Manchester City earlier.
Arsenal made six changes to the side that beat Manchester City in Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final and Villa took advantage to move out of the bottom three for the first time since February.
It was a nervy night at an empty Villa Park with Keinan Davis wasting a glorious chance to make it 2-0 and minutes later Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah headed against the inside of the post.
Villa, promoted last season, hung on for their second victory in three games and now face West Ham United on Sunday sensing an escape that for so long has appeared beyond them.
They have 34 points and a -26 goal difference with Watford also on 34 but with a -27 goal difference. Bournemouth have 31 and could still stay up if they win their last game at Everton and Villa and Watford both lose.
“It was unbelievable, I think it was deserved we were outstanding today,” Villa midfielder Jack Grealish, who was superb throughout, told Sky Sports.
“It’s been a tense day, all we can do is focus on ourselves. It’s up to us what we do on the last day. It feels massive to be out of the relegation zone.”
Trezeguet was one of many signings Villa made after their promotion last season, and the 8.75 million pounds ($11.13 million) he cost might prove to be the club’s most important investment.
He scored both goals when Villa beat Crystal Palace in their last home game and delivered again.
When Conor Hourihane swung over a corner in the 27th minute the ball came out to the Egyptian stationed on the edge of the area and he set himself before hammering a shot past Arsenal keeper Emiliano Martinez.
Grealish went close before halftime and while Arsenal had plenty of possession after the break they looked flat.
Davis could have settled Villa’s nerves when Grealish played him through but his left-foot shot slid wide.
That miss almost came back to bite Villa when Nketiah’s glancing header struck the inside of the post and rebounded back into the hands of Pepe Reina who kissed the ball.
Arsenal, who failed to have an effort on target, can now finish no higher than eighth and their only route into Europe will be by winning the FA Cup against Chelsea on Aug. 1.
Mikel Arteta’s side could still have a huge say in the relegation battle though when they host Watford on Sunday.