Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has his sights set on catching Sergio Aguero and Mohamed Salah in the race for the Premier League’s Golden Boot after his opportunistic goal downed Watford.
Aubameyang capitalised on goalkeeper Ben Foster’s lapse in concentration in the 10th minute at Vicarage Road on Monday, earning a win that moved the Gunners up to fourth in the table.
Troy Deeney’s red card shortly after the goal gave Watford a mountain to climb but Javi Gracia’s side hit the woodwork twice, Bernd Leno turning Craig Cathcart’s effort on to the post and Adam Masina’s drive clipping the crossbar.
Arsenal held on against the 10 men for their first away clean sheet in the Premier League this season, giving Unai Emery’s men a boost ahead of the second leg of their upcoming Europa League quarter-final with Napoli.
Aubameyang moved on to 18 Premier League goals with his winner and is now within one of Golden Boot leaders Salah and Aguero, while Liverpool’s Sadio Mane is level with the Gabon international.
Former Borussia Dortmund striker Aubameyang was the Bundesliga’s leading scorer in 2016-17 after netting 31 times and he feels he can chase down Aguero and Salah despite games running out fast.
“Yeah, why not. I feel confident,” Aubameyang told Sky Sports when asked if he could claim the Golden Boot. “The race is going on. I know it’s a tough battle. I’m confident that I will carry on.
“I was confident. It’s a long time I wanted to score a goal like this. Tonight, it went through. I was confident. Normally goalkeepers, they don’t really know if you’re coming back to them. It was a good goal for me, I like it.”
Aubameyang ploughed a lone furrow with Alexandre Lacazette left on the bench and the striker accepted he would prefer to operate as a front two with the Frenchman alongside him.
“Everybody knows that I like to play with Laca because we have a great partnership,” he added.
“Sometimes one plays, the other is on the bench. It’s like that. You have to fight for the team.
“I think you know that I like to play with two strikers but I don’t want to say it because the coach will be maybe a bit angry.”
Watford goalkeeper Foster accepted he was badly to blame for Arsenal’s winner, failing to move the ball on fast enough after receiving Daryl Janmaat’s pass.
“I am gutted for the lads. they were brilliant,” Foster said to Sky Sports. “We were the better team, pushing for it. Arsenal were happy to hit us on the counter.
“I should have just ‘Cruyffed’ him to be honest. I’ve said sorry to the lads. I have tried to drag it on to my left and pass it out but before I knew it he was bloody on me. He is too quick.
“I have to do it quicker. In hindsight you have to get rid as quick as you can, even if it goes into row Z. I am definitely not a modern goalie. They can’t score from row Z. He is just rapid. Lesson learned.”