We moved into the top four with a hard-fought win at Watford on Sunday in a rollercoaster of a game at Vicarage Road.
After the drama of our last Premier League clash some 10 days earlier against Wolves, Mikel Arteta would have been after a more serene affair this time around.
But his heart would have been in his mouth when, 19 seconds into the match, Emmanuel Dennis raced behind our defence and beat Aaron Ramsdale to seemingly open the scoring. The assistant referee’s flag spared us from an early concession though.
But a blockbuster opening to the match saw us take the lead minutes later as a slick move up the right saw the superb Martin Odegaard flick the ball to Bukayo Saka. Our England international raced up the right and picked out Odegaard, who took a touch before finding the far corner for his fifth goal of the campaign.
But our lead did not last long as the Hornets stung us with a sharp move up the right, with Kiko Femenia crossing for Cucho Hernandez to send a brilliant overhead kick past Ramsdale – and this time it did count.
We weren’t at our very best in the first half, but regained the lead when fine work by Saka to steal the ball in front of the Watford box saw his then find Alex Lacazette in the area. The captain did what he does best, holding off Craig Cathcart before playing it back to Saka to curl the ball high into the roof of the net.
We couldn’t add to our lead before the interval, but after half time we opened up a two goal advantage in clinical circumstances.
Credit to Saka, who took a quick throw to release Cedric up the right and he found Lacazette on the edge of the area, he then laid it off to Gabriel Martinelli and the Brazilian found the top corner with a fine first-time effort.
The game still had plenty of life still in it, and the hosts soon had a penalty shout waved away, with Moussa Sissoko and Tom Cleverley in quick succession.
Lacazette then had an opportunity to extend our lead after good work from Odegaard but fired wide, while Ben White skewed a volley wide when well placed.
Dennis had a big chance to pull one back for Watford in the closing stages but scuffed his shot with the goal gaping.
We kept pushing to kill off the game, and Eddie Nketiah – on for a matter of moments – nearly did just that but hit the post after a rapid counter attack.
But Roy Hodgson’s side added another twist when Sissoko forced the ball home from a tight angle, setting up a grandstand finish.
But despite a tense finale, we held on for the three points in another vital victory in the hunt for a top-four finish.
WHAT IT MEANS
We welcome to Leicester City to N5 next Sunday, in another huge game for Mikel Arteta’s side.
After that Liverpool arrive in north London Wednesday, March 16 before we hit the road to take on Aston Villa.
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