It looked like the beginning of a long night for Watford after the usually dependable Ben Foster gifted an unwitting Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the opener in their Monday clash with Arsenal before Troy Deeney was dismissed for violent conduct.

However, the Hornets were not deflated and, despite being down to 10 men, gave a fantastic account of themselves and were, in the end, unlucky not to come away with a result.

Adam Masina and Craig Cathcart hit bar and post, respectively, while the Gunners defence were repeatedly put under pressure by the pace of Andre Gray. It clearly wasn’t meant to be though, with Unai Emery’s men taking all three points as Foster’s error proved decisive.

Regardless of how frustrating the outcome must have been for Javi Gracia, the Watford boss showed his class as he heaped praise on his squad and deflected any blame away from Foster in his post-match comments:

“All my players make mistakes. Me as well. It’s something natural. We have to live with our mistakes. All the players make mistakes, all the coaches make mistakes. I prefer to give value to all the good things. When we win and one player scores, all the players and team are happy.

“We are a team and we enjoy together and suffer together. It’s about the team and we are not pointing at one player. This is the moment to be together. With ten players, in the circumstances we had, we competed really well.”

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The Spaniard’s Watford reign, to an outsider, has appeared near faultless, with the Vicarage Road outfit pushing for seventh place and having also booked their place in the FA Cup final recently.

However, the former Rubin Kazan boss has confessed that even he makes mistakes after Foster’s gaffe – words which will surely go a long way in helping the veteran custodian sleep this week. Gracia is looking like an outside bet for Manager of the Year and these classy comments have only strengthened that case.


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Harry Elnaugh