Cup holders Arsenal will take the field on Sunday looking to book a place in the semifinals of the FA Cup for the third consecutive year when they host Watford. The Gunners beat Hull City 4-0 in midweek to set up a home clash with the Premier League side. The Hornets, however, beat Leeds United by a single goal to be drawn away at Arsenal. It finished 3-0 to Arsenal when the two sides last met. Read on to find out what we can expect from the tie this time around:
Kickoff and Live Telecast
Channel: SonySix, SonySix HD.
Date and Time: Sunday, 13 March 2016 – 13:30 GMT (19:00 IST)
Venue: Emirates Stadium, London.
Arsenal are expected to have both their injured centre-backs with the duo of Per Mertesacker and Gabriel back for this game. Meanwhile, Laurent Koscielny has also recovered from his thigh injury. However, it is highly unlikely that the French international will feature in the game. Aaron Ramsey has been sidelined for a month, which will give Mohamed Elneny more time on the pitch. Keeping in mind the midweek trip to Barcelona, Arsene Wenger is expected to rotate his squad, while also fielding a strong side. Alexis Sanchez will be expected to start, Mesut Ozil might be rested. Alex Iwobi should continue his run in the FA Cup after having had a good game against Hull.
Petr Cech, Tomas Rosicky, Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – all remain sidelined for the Gunners.
Watford will visit the Emirates without a certain Jose Manuel Jurado, who has been out with a calf problem for a month. Even though manager Quique Sanchez Flores has denied a big problem to Jurado, a month out looks like a big problem. Defender Miguel Britos was forced off before kickoff last weekend after a hamstring problem and he remains out. Hence, Nathan Ake will again be in central defence as Craig Cathcart might also be out.
Tommie Hoban and Joel Ekstrand have resumed training for the Hornets but neither will be in the squad.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Ospina; Chambers, Mertesacker, Gabriel, Gibbs; Elneny, Flamini; Campbell, Iwobi, Walcott; Giroud.
Watford (4-4-2): Pantilimon; Paredes, Prodl, Ake, Holebas; Amrabat, Capoue, Suarez, Behrami; Deeney, Ighalo.
Arsenal had been struggling with their form before they finally ended their winless streak at Hull City with a 4-0 win. Before that game, the Gunners had been winless in four games, starting from their 0-0 draw at home against Hull in the first tie in the FA Cup. Then they went on to get beaten by Barcelona in the Champions League, going to Old Trafford and failing with a 3-2 defeat. And finally losing to Swansea City at home.
Their poor run saw them drop points in the league, which has put them 8 points behind leaders Leicester City. This means that Wenger will be focussing on retaining their FA Cup to make up for failing yet again in the Premier League and the Champions League. However, the positive aspect of their win against Hull was the return to goal-scoring form of Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott.
The strikers will now be more confident going into the quarterfinal, with a midweek tie at Barcelona to follow. The Gunners have lost three, won one and drawn one game in their last five games in all competitions.
Last 5 games: L-L-L-D-W (Last match: Hull City 0-4 Arsenal)
Watford come into this game having lost their last two league games. In fact, the Hornets have managed to win only two of their 12 games in the Premier League. The last five games has seen them losing twice, winning twice and drawing once. This horrendous form has seen them sink to the bottom half of the table.
Quique Flores’ men have been lacking the goals since the turn of the year as the strike partnership of Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo has only scored five goals between them in 2016, compared to 19 between August 2015 to December 2015. The others have not particularly with Watford failing to score in their last three games. However, their water-tight defence has kept them afloat for the moment.
The Hornets, in fact, have shipped in only 30 goals this season. Only Tottenham have a better record at the back. In the FA Cup this season, the Hornets have beaten Newcastle United, Nottingham Forest and Leeds United by an identical margin of 1-0.
Last 5 games: W-W-D-L-L (Last match: Watford 0-1 Leicester City)
- 3- If Arsenal win the FA Cup this season, they will join Wanderers (1876-78) and Blackburn (1884-86) in winning the trophy for three successive years.
- 3- The Gunners haven't lost three home games in a row in all competitions since November 2002.
- 6- Arsenal have won all six matches v Watford in the PL era, scoring 16 goals to Watford’s five.
- 7- Watford have lost seven of their last 11 league matches, having only won two games and drawn two.
- 16- Arsenal have won 15 consecutive rounds of the FA Cup. The post-war record is 16, which is also held by the Gunners during the 2002-2004 period.
Troy Deeney vs Mohamed Elneny
Troy Deeney has had the best season of his life in the Premier League this term and will be willing to go all guns blazing to book a place in the semifinals of the FA Cup, which will round off a great campaign for the Hornets. However, the task on Sunday will be extremely difficult for the visitors, but not impossible.
Deeney will be up against the holding midfielders of Arsenal and January signing Mohamed Elneny would be the man who will look to stop Deeney from making the physical runs into the box and assist his partner in crime, Odion Ighalo. But the Egyptian will look to stop the supply of passes between both the players. Elneny has impressed since his move from Basel, and the FA Cup is his playground at the moment. Therefore, this private battle in the middle of the park could well decide this encounter.
Arsenal’s recent poor run of form ended with a win against Hull where the forwards came good for them. Therefore, we can expect a good game but eventually, Arsenal’s individual quality can make the difference. It will be tough for Watford to find anything from this game given the number of times the Gunners have come from behind in this competition.
Predicted score: Arsenal 2-0 Watford
Betting odds (bet365)
Arsenal – 4/7
Draw – 10/3
Watford – 21/4