On March 13th, FA Cup holders Arsenal welcome Watford to the Emirates Stadium for the FA Cup quarter finals. After getting through their fifth round replay away to Hull City earlier this week, Arsenal are in the quarterfinals for the third consecutive time. With a 2-0 deficit going into the second leg in the Champions League and the league title slipping away from them, Arsenal really need a win here to get the fan base back onside and look to continue their run of winning a trophy in each of the last two seasons. In their first season back in the top flight since 2006/2007, Watford are just one win away from going to Wembley. With their Premier League status for next season all but secured (13 points and five places off relegation), the Hornets will be looking to go all out to get to their first FA Cup semi final since April 2007.
Arsenal seem to be going into one of their typical injury crises at this point in the season. Against Hull they suffered three injuries with Per Mertesacker, Gabriel, and Aaron Ramsey all going off injured. Arsene Wenger has said that the two centerbacks should be good to go on Sunday, but that Ramsey’s injury could keep him out for a few weeks. On top of that, they’ll be missing Laurent Koscielny until the Barcelona game midweek. Petr Cech, Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky, Santi Cazorla, and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain will all be out until at least the end of the month.
Watford don’t quite have the injury problems their counterparts do. Their only two injury misses are the Spanish pair of Miguel Britos and Jose Manuel Jurado.
These two sides have met six times since 1992 with Arsenal winning all six meetings. The Gunners have scored three or more goals in three of those six victories. The two sides have the joint-fourth best defense in the Premier League each conceding 30 goals in 29 games. No one outside of Troy Deeney and Odion Igalho has scored more than one league goal for Watford this season. The Hornets have been held scoreless for each of their last three matches.
Arsenal: Joel Campbell
With a trip to the Nou Camp coming in the week, Arsene Wenger will likely rotate his side against Watford. One of the players that will likely get a start is Costa Rican sensation Joel Campbell. The 23 year old came into this season as a bit part player at best. Seven months later Campbell is coming into his own as an Arsenal first team player and an important contributor. So far he’s played an important role in the FA Cup run starting three of the four games scoring one goal and assisting another. In his last two starts he has registered a goal and an assist and will be hoping for more of the same to help get Arsenal to Wembley for the third consecutive season.
Watford: Troy Deeney
Watford have been a solid mid table Premier League team all season. While their team ethic has been responsible for getting them this far, they have been rather dependent on star striker Odion Igalho and captain Troy Deeney for goals. The Hornets striking duo has scored 76% of their league goals. Deeney was the teams only player to score a league goal in the month of February. Chances are they’ll need to score multiple goals to beat Arsenal at the Emirates, so they’ll need their strikers to be firing.
Arsenal really should be winning this game. Even with a rotated side, they have the firepower to break through Watford and the strength to keep them out defensively. They should be getting to Wembley in relatively comfortable fashion.
Prediction: 3-1 Arsenal