Villa had to rely on a huge dose of fortune to preserve its most significant win of the season.
With 13 minutes remaining and Villa leading through Trezeguet’s powerfully struck goal in the first half, Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah rose to meet a curling corner and headed the ball against the far post. The ball rebounded out, struck Villa goalkeeper Pepe Reina, and almost bounced back over the line before Reina pounced on it.
Ultimately, Trezeguet was Villa’s matchwinner, like he was on July 12 in scoring twice in a home victory over Crystal Palace. Villa’s last win before that came in January.
Arsenal lost to a relegation contender two days after beating Manchester City in the FA Cup semifinals, highlighting the inconsistency that still bedevils Mikel Arteta’s team.
The highest Arsenal can now finish is eighth place, meaning it will need to beat Chelsea in the FA Cup final on Aug. 1 to play in European competition next season.
If Watford does go down, at least it won’t have to play Manchester City next season.
Make that 18-0 to City in the last three meetings between the teams, after a 6-0 win in the FA Cup last season and an 8-0 win for City at its Etihad Stadium home in September.
Raheem Sterling moved onto 19 league goals for the season — his most in a single campaign — with a first-half double, the second coming off a rebound after having a penalty saved.
Phil Foden and Aymeric Laporte were the other scorers.
Kevin De Bruyne provided the cross for Laporte’s goal for his 19th assist of the season, one off Thierry Henry’s record for one season.
As for Watford, there was no reaction to the surprising weekend firing of Nigel Pearson, who became the third manager to lose his job at Vicarage Road this season — a divisional record.
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