First Team 15/04/2019

Gracia: “I Don't Understand That Decision”

Watch Javi Gracia's post-match interview above, or read on below.

By Kevin Affleck

The usually stoic Javi Gracia struggled this time to hide his disappointment at a referee's decision, believing his side were on the receiving end of a rough call against Arsenal at Vicarage Road.

The Hornets were in the process of regathering themselves after Ben Foster gift-wrapped the Gunners what turned out to be the only goal of the game when Troy Deeney was shown a straight red card on 11 minutes for a challenge on Lucas Torreira. Referee Craig Pawson made the call on the say-so of his assistant, Richard West. 

The usually mild-mannered Gracia was so annoyed he waited for the officials at half-time and escorted them down the tunnel along with Technical Director Filippo Giraldi. Étienne Capoue also made a beeline for the official when the half-time whistle blew, the stand-in captain seeking further clarification about the dismissal.

“I don't agree, but I respect the decision,” said Gracia. “I have doubt. Maybe it was a yellow card. Maybe. But I don't understand why the referee did it. He hasn't explained anything. If someone has to explain that decision, it's the referee.”

Deeney was shown a red card, his first since the one against Huddersfield in 2017, after the officials deemed his right arm made contact with the face of Torreira, the combative Uruguayan. 

“I could see the play, I could see the contact with his his arm but never with his elbow,” said Gracia. “What I can I say? I don't understand that decision.”

Deeney will now serve a three-match ban, ruling him out of games against Huddersfield, Southampton and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

“Troy is very sad, it was an important game for us, he knew it,” said Gracia. “The sending off was very tough for us.”

Unai Emery took a leaf out of the book of his predecessor, Arsène Wenger, when he reflected on the key incident.

“I didn't see it,” said the Arsenal coach. “I respect the decision of the referee. It's clear it helped us.”

First Team 15/04/2019

Foster: “We Can Take A Lot Of Heart”

Ben Foster insists Watford can take a “lot of heart” from the “magnificent” performance they delivered against Arsenal despite a 1-0 defeat at Vicarage Road.

The Hornets’ keeper was caught in possession by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for the Gunners’ winner after just 10 minutes.

And when Troy Deeney was shown a straight red card for a coming together with Lucas Torreira just 60 seconds later, it looked like a tall order for the hosts.

But Craig Cathcart struck the post via the body of Arsenal keeper Bernd Leno, Adam Masina struck the crossbar with a thunderous effort from range and Andre Gray was denied a certain goal by a vital block by Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

“I’m gutted for the lads,” admitted Foster. “I thought we were the better team. Arsenal seemed happy to play on the counter attack.

“I’ve said sorry to the lads after the game and I want to say sorry to the fans. I should have Cruyffed him.

“Aubameyang is rapid. He is so fast and was too quick for me. With hindsight, when you have got players like him then you have got to get rid quick even if it goes into row Z.. They can’t score from row Z.

“It is a lesson learned for me. Next time I’ll put my boot through it.

“Things happen in football. But we are a team. We win as a team, we lose as a team.

“We can take a lot of heart from that performance because I thought we were magnificent.”