For Troy Deeney this was the night that his fondness for speaking his mind well and truly came back to kick him in the cojones. Always good for a soundbite, it was after this fixture in October 2017 that the Watford captain accused Arsenal’s players of lacking a certain male body part and outlined how he liked to “whack the first one” whenever the sides met.
Well, 18 months on, Deeney did indeed give an Arsenal player a whack and he was sent off for his troubles.
The flashpoint came early, after 11 minutes to be precise, and somewhat out of nowhere. Arsenal had just taken the lead through a combination of impressive opportunism by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and outright doziness by Ben Foster when the referee, Craig Pawson, was suddenly displaying a red card. Deeney was the guilty party having, it seems, been spotted by Richard West, the assistant on the far side, throwing his right forearm into the side of Lucas Torreira’s head as he ran past the Arsenal midfielder.
From where West was standing, it is possible he deemed that Deeney had hit Torreira with his elbow, with Pawson possibly coming to the same conclusion. As Javi Gracia was at pains to point out afterwards, that was not the case, yet there was no denying Deeney had been reckless and could have little complaints with what was his second ever Premier League dismissal and one that rules him out of Watford’s next three fixtures.