Competition: FA Cup: Quarter-Final – Arsenal vs. Watford
Venue: Emirates Stadium – Sunday, March 13 – 13:30 GMT (08:30 ET)
Match Odds: Arsenal 1/2 – Draw 100/30 – Watford 5/1
The Gunners booked their place in this quarter-final tie after a comprehensive display in the fifth round replay away at Hull City in midweek as they thrashed the Championship outfit 4-0.
Arsene Wenger’s side consequently ended a run of five straight games without a win in all competitions, which included a goalless draw with Hull at home that forced the replay.
Arsenal came from 2-1 behind to snatch a draw in the North London derby with Tottenham at White Hart Lane in the Premier League last weekend, despite only having ten men, so they’ll be hoping they’ve turned a corner, following that poor run of results.
Watford edged a 1-0 victory at home to Leeds in the FA Cup fifth round three weeks ago, but haven’t managed a win in any of their three Premier League games since then, failing to score in any of them.
A goalless draw with Bournemouth and 1-0 defeats to Manchester United and Leiecester are a minor blip in what has otherwise been an excellent season for the Hornets.
Quique Sanchez Flores has steered his side to within three points of the 40-point mark, which is regarded as the amount required to guarantee Premier League safety, meaning they can focus on this tie without being concerned over a relegation battle.
The last meeting between these two sides saw Arsenal run out as comfortable 3-0 winners in a Premier League clash at Vicarage Road back in October.
Arsenal defenders Per Mertesacker (head) and Gabriel (muscular) both went off injured in midweek but should be passed fit to play. Aaron Ramsey (muscular) also limped off and may not be risked. Laurent Koscielny (calf) is almost back to full fitness but Sunday’s game could come too soon. Petr Cech (calf), Santi Cazorla (knee), Jack Wilshere (ankle), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), Tomas Rosicky (thigh) and Carl Jenkinson (knee) all remain out.
Watford defenders Miguel Britos (hamstring), Craig Cathcart (knock) and Joel Ekstrand (fitness) are all doubts for this one, while midfielder Jurado (calf) is also yet to recover from injury.
Arsenal’s last five in all competitions: L/L/L/D/W
Watford’s last five in all competitions: W/W/D/L/L
Key Stat: Arsenal haven’t lost to Watford since April 1988 – the Gunners have since won all six meetings between the two sides, scoring 16 and conceding five goals in the process.
Key Player: Joel Campbell – The Costa Rican was instrumental in Arsenal’s 4-0 win over Hull in midweek, so he’ll be hoping he’s done enough to earn a starting berth for this quarter-final tie. You get the feeling that Campbell could have a big future with the Gunners and he could be the difference on Sunday.
Arsenal 2-1 Watford – This should be a very tight game. Quique Sanchez Flores has drilled his Watford team to be very organised defensively, so it won’t be easy for the Gunners to break them down and they’ve also got an offensive threat in Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo. However, Arsenal’s win over Hull will have given them a big boost and they’ll be desperate to keep their hopes alive of becoming the first team to win three successive FA Cup’s since 1886.