Watford’s five year spell in the Premier League came to an end on Sunday despite a spirited second-half display in their 3-2 defeat away at Arsenal.

Two first-half goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang either side of Kieran Tierney’s second had the Gunners in a strong position going in at the break, while Troy Deeney did what he could to salvage some morale with a penalty at the other end.

Danny Welbeck brought the Hornets close to nicking a point in the second-half, but it was not enough to keep them in the top flight.

Interim head coach Hayden Mullins put out an attacking side, with Welbeck replacing Tom Cleverley in the starting 11, while Adam Masina was restored in place of Adrian Mariappa at left-back. Etienne Capoue meanwhile failed a late fitness test and remained unavailable for selection.

Prior to the game Kiko Femenia had spoken of Watford’s desire to be “tight” at the back, but that went out the window in the first minute of the match when Alexandre Lacazette was clattered by a mindless Craig Dawson challenge after Aubameyang’s cross from the left. Following lengthy deliberations, the spot kick was awarded by VAR and the Gabonese striker calmly converted.

Watford had an attacking game plan and pushed forward into the Arsenal half with a number of potentially threatening movements, but confidence was clearly lacking, as was cutting edge, leading each attack to end with a whimper.

Ismaila Sarr was fortunate enough to see the ball end up at the feet of Roberto Pereyra after he dithered in the box ended up with a pass to Abdoulaye Doucoure, despite him being in an advantageous position. The Argentine fired straight at Emiliano Martinez and the chance went begging.

Deeney’s header was denied a route to goal when it struck Rob Holding flush in the face, before the skipper’s cross-cum-shot flashed across the face of goal, with no one gambling to turn it in.

Tierney then inflicted further misery upon the Hornets when his shot was deflected past Ben Foster and into the net after a counter-attack and Mullins’s men all-but knew they would be facing Championship opposition next season when Aubameyang flicked his second in after collecting directly from a throw-in.

The visitors were handed a glimmer of a lifeline when David Luiz scythed down Danny Welbeck in the box, with Deeney leathering the penalty into the bottom corner of the net. However, results elsewhere had them sitting behind Bournemouth, needing two goals of their own and another at the London Stadium if they had any chance of survival.

Nevertheless, Watford emerged with some determination for the second-half and just five minutes after the restart they had another chance to score from even closer than the penalty spot.

Adam Masina snatched at the opportunity and blazed over the bar after Adrian Mariappa’s long throw-in found its way to the full-back eight yards from the target.

The Hornets had better luck when finally one of their good chances fell to a striker. Welbeck turned home Sarr’s cross from the right after Martinez misjudged the delivery.

The former Arsenal man should have equalised afterwards when Sarr again presented him with a similar chance. However, his backheeled effort was flicked away by Martinez just before it could cross the line, as time ticked away on the Hornets' time in the top flight.

At the other end, some heroics from Foster denied Aubameyang a hat-trick as the visitors' need for more goals opened the game up.

Deeney had a final opportunity to turn defeat into a draw with a header on the end of substitute Nathaniel Chalobah’s free-kick, but he nodded over and Arsenal saw the remainder of the game out comfortably. With Aston Villa drawing away at West Ham, it would not have made the difference needed.

Watford now have just six weeks to prepare for next season, which starts on September 12, with a number of big issues to address following a season in which they won just eight games and sacked three head coaches.

The really hard work begins now.