LONDON (Reuters) - Watford were relegated from the Premier League on Sunday but went down fighting in a 3-2 loss at Arsenal, almost clawing their way back from a three-goal deficit largely thanks to former Arsenal striker Danny Welbeck.
The Hornets’ 20th defeat of the season left them second from bottom in the league, meaning they join Norwich City and Bournemouth in dropping down to the Championship when the new season starts on Sept. 12.
Their captain Troy Deeney put a brave face on relegation after the game.
“Ultimately we haven’t been good enough. There’s no point dancing around it. The whole club from top to bottom will do an audit, we’ll look at where we’re at, and we’ll reassess,” he told Sky Sports.
“It’s not just us, I think Bournemouth and Norwich will be doing the same thing. It’s part and parcel of football.”
The visitors got off to a nightmare start when defender Craig Dawson brought down Alexandre Lacazette in the area in the third minute to concede a penalty, which Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang converted.
Stung by the early setback, Watford poured forward and created numerous chances to equalize, the best of which came in the 13th minute when Ismaila Sarr swept up from the right into the area.
The lanky Senegalese passed across to Abdoulaye Doucoure, whose scuffed effort fell straight to team mate Roberto Pereyra, but the Argentine’s shot from point-blank range was parried away by Arsenal keeper Emiliano Martinez.
Arsenal doubled their lead in the 24th minute when Kieran Tierney rifled home from the edge of the area, and Aubameyang poured on the misery 10 minutes later with an unchallenged overhead kick from close range to make it 3-0.
Watford were given hope of a way back into the game shortly before the break when Welbeck, who left Arsenal to join Watford last summer, won a penalty for the visitors after being scythed down by David Luiz.
Deeney drilled his spot kick past Arsenal keeper Emiliano Martinez to reduce the deficit.
But Adam Masina missed a golden opportunity to reduce it further just after the break, when he lashed a shot over the bar from close range after a throw-in.
Both sides broke through each others’ frail defences time and again, but keepers Ben Foster for Watford and Martinez for Arsenal put in numerous fine saves.
Welbeck then narrowed the gap further in the 65th minute, tapping home from close range after yet another cross from Sarr.
The visitors poured forward in search of an equaliser but they were unable to break through before the final whistle.
Reporting by Hugh Lawson; Editing by Frances Kerry and Pritha Sarkar