Arsenal v Watford: FA Cup Quarter Final Preview

Arsenal v Watford: FA Cup Quarter Final Preview
Mar 12, 2016

Arsenal Watford

The Hornets are taking on Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday in the FA Cup quarter finals. Earlier on in the season the Gunners dished out a 3-0 punishment to Watford at Vicarage Road as Sánchez, Giroud and Ramsey struck late on in a game where Watford held their own for 60 minutes. The Hornets switched off after that, allowing Arsenal to take full advantage and get 3 cheap goals. Whilst Watford deserved to lose after that poor last 30 minutes, they definitely didn’t deserve to lose by that big of a margin.

Let’s look at the form of the two teams. Watford come off the back of two harsh losses to Manchester United and Leicester City, two games which Watford could’ve stole a draw, if not taken all 3 points. They played well in both of those games, but have been struggling to score when the chances come to the strikers. This is most likely down to the poor form of Odion Ighalo who has hit a dry patch after scoring 15 goals earlier on in the season. Quique Sanchez Flores will be looking to right this at the Emirates by maybe experimenting with another striker, or changing up the system a bit to get Ighalo a few more one-on-ones which is where Ighalo shines.

Arsenal got through to the Quarters after a quality performance in their replay against Hull at the KC Stadium, coming out 4-0 winners. Arsenal hadn’t been on the best run of form before that though, losing 3 of their last 4 games against Swansea, Manchester United and Barcelona. The other game they drew 2-2 with North London rivals Spurs. Wenger will take plenty of positives from the Hull game though, and they will be looking to replicate that against the Hornets to take them to Wembley.

All of the pressure from this match will be on Arsene Wenger’s men, as they look to be crashing out of the Champions League at the hands of Barcelona, and their title challenge looks to be over due to recent poor Premier League form. It looks like the FA Cup is the only chance of silverware for the Gunners this season. Wenger will not field a weakened side regardless of fixture congestion, as they will be throwing everything at Watford to try and get to Wembley. Whilst this looks to play into Arsenal’s hands, Watford have thrived with the underdog tag this season which makes me think this tie could go either way.

Joel Ekstrand, Jose Manuel Jurado and Miguel Britos are out for the Hornets, with Craig Cathcart facing a late fitness test. This leaves Watford short of defensive options, although Ake did very well against Leicester, he may struggle with the strength of Giroud. Arsenal will be without Aaron Ramsey whilst Laurent Koscielny remains a doubt for Sunday’s game. Per Mertesacker and Gabriel are both fit despite picking up knocks against Hull which will give Arsenal a boost in defence.

It certainly will be an interesting affair between the two sides, with both having a few injury problems to key players and with Arsenal’s fixture congestion. With the FA Cup being Arsenal’s biggest hope for silverware this season they will be incredibly motivated to get to Wembley, whilst Watford go in as underdogs trying to get to Wembley for the first time since the Play Off final 3 seasons ago, backed with 9,000 travelling fans to try and push them there.

By Tom Cobbing (@tomcobbing)

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