Holders Arsenal were dumped out of the FA Cup after a shock home defeat to Watford. Arsenal came into this match after a convincing win over Hull in the previous round but spurned several opportunities that ultimately proved costly.
Odion Ighalo gave the visitors the lead in the 50th minute after finishing from close range. And 12 minutes later a wonder strike from Algerian Guedioura put Watford 2-0 ahead. Arsenal pulled one back late into the game through Danny Welbeck but Watford held on to book their place in the semi-finals
Arsenal: Ospina; Chambers, Gabriel, Mertesacker, Gibbs; Elneny, Coquelin; Campbell, Özil, Sanchez; Giroud.
Watford: Gomes; Nyom, Prödl, Cathcart, Ake; Watson, Behrami; Capoue, Deeney, Guedioura; Ighalo.
First Half: Both teams threaten but lack end product
Arsene Wenger made several changes to his side from the 4-0 win against Hull City in midweek. The manager recalled his big guns as Ozil and Sanchez returned to the starting lineup. Watford were looking to build on an already impressive season and their two main players Troy Deeney and Ighalo both started up front in their 4-4-2 formation.
Giroud had broken his duck after going 11 games without scoring with a brace against Hull City. Campbell got the nod ahead of Walcott on the right but Iwobi only made the bench. Arsenal started the brighter and carved out their first opportunity in the 2nd minute. A good interchange of passes led to Campbell putting a low ball in from the right but no player in a red shirt could get to it.
The home side dominated possession but Watford looked dangerous on the break. Ighalo and Deeney caused some problems for Mertesacker and Gabriel in particular. The Watford top scorer had two great chances to setup Deeney but his final ball was lacking.
For the Gunners their best two chances fell to Elneny, his first shot was from close range which he blazed over and then near the end of the half he had another opportunity from the edge of the area after some delightful footwork from Ozil but again his shot was off target.
Second Half: Watford score twice in 12 minutes
The game finally came to life in the second half as Watford took a shock lead. Arsenal’s defence always looked susceptible in the first half and they finally paid for their mistakes. Ighalo was found in the box by a cross. The striker first held off Mertesacker and then rolled him very easily to turn and squeeze it past Ospina.
You would expect a response from the Gunners but they were unable to get a hold of the game obviously shocked by the goal. But Watford were high on confidence after their goal. They started to look the more threatening and 12 minutes later they scored a second.
Once again Arsenal were caught on the break as Ighalo found Deeney and he held off his marker to setup Guedioura on the right-hand side edge of the box and he unleashed a thunderbolt of a shot that landed right in the top right corner.
The Gunners expectedly went all out with Wenger bringing on Walcott, Iwobi and Welbeck in a triple substitution. Wenger's’ move paid off temporarily as a wonderful interchange of passes between Welbeck and Ozil resulted in the former finishing past Pantilimon with good placement.
That was in the 88th minute but it turned out to be too little too late. Watford had a few nervy moments, to say the least after that when Arsenal hit the post and also missed from close range but it wasn’t to be as the holders were knocked out of the FA Cup in a shock upset.Published 13 Mar 2016, 19:22 IST