Arsenal 1 Watford 2 FA Cup Quarter Final
Welbeck 88, Ighalo 50, Guedioura 63

FA Cup holders Arsenal were knocked out of the FA Cup by a resilient Watford, who went up two goals to the good before the Gunners decided to fire. Odion Ighalo outmuscled Gabriel to turn and strike the opener. The shock on the Arsenal bench wasn’t too much in evidence, but that changed when Adlene Guedioura’s thunderbolt whizzed past David Ospina to double the visitors’ lead. Feeling the affects of their midweek FA Cup replay win a at Hull, their seemed to be a distinct lack of direction and energy in the Arsenal game, and this despite having a fair proportion of possession, but once again, nothing to show for it. By the time substitute Danny Welbeck struck to halve the deficit, it appeared already too late for Arsene Wenger’s side who rallied to see substitute Alex Iwobi hit the post, with Welbeck unable to turn and guide in the rebound.

The early exchanges showed promise in the bright North London sunshine, Calum Chambers and Joel Campbell bringing energy and invention from which the rest of the Arsenal side could have done well to emulate. Chambers cross eluded Alexis Sanchez after two minutes, and any connection from the Chile striker, and it would have hit the target, but it wasn’t to be.

Olivier Giroud did beat Costel Pantilimon with a cool finish after the Gunners capitalised from Ben Watson losing the ball in midfield. Fresh from his double at the KC Stadium, the France striker latched onto the Alexis pass, but was ruled marginally off side as he fired in, and the scores remained goal less.

Arsenal began to pass and move, but faced with a defensive Watford block there was a distinct lack of penetration. Kieran Gibbs crossed for Giroud, but Nathan Ake blocked well to make the Watford defensive point.

Midway through the first half, Mesut Özil fed Campbell who in turn played in Chambers on the right. The Arsenal defender whipped in a low cross, but Pantilimon stretched his long arms to collect ball whilst prone on the ground.

After 27 minutes, Gabriel and Troy Deeney went in wholeheartedly for a full blooded tackle from which Deeney required treatment. It seemed a typical cup type of tackle, but replays suggested that Gabriel may have gone in off the ground.

Improving and impressing, Mohamed Elneny was given another start, and alongside Francis Coquelin, the two seem to be forming the beginnings of a steely midfield partnership. The Egyptian will feel he should have done better when he blasted high and over after, collecting, the loose ball from Özil’s corner.

Elneny was again in the thick of things after Gibbs raced back to clear from his defence. The ball ended up with Elneny whose ricochet shot went tamely into Pantilimon’s arms. Arsenal had a shout for a penalty after Sebsatian Prodl brought down Ozil. Neither he nor his team mates appealed, but replays showed that it seemed to be a valid claim.

With half time approaching, Ozil tricked his way past Ake and squared to find Campbell. He played in Elneny just inside the Watford area but again the Egyptian was off target, firing over the bar. The half ended with Campbell adjusting himself to chip well over Pantillimon, but sadly for him, it was also over the bar too.

Three minutes after the break and Giroud headed over from Ozil’s corner. At the other end, Ighalo’s strong turn and shot found the net beyond Ospina, with Gabriel left wondering how he was outmuscled away from gaining possession.

Arsenal responded with an Elneny shot which he managed to keep low, but straight into Pantilimon’s arms. The Romanian keeper then blocked Giroud from a near post flick shot to keep his side ahead.

Deep in defence but fast to break out, Watford stunned the Arsenal faithful again when they doubled their lead in spectacular fashion. Deeney’s clever hold up play allowed Guedioura to strike first time with power, and before Ospina had time to blink, the ball flew past him and into in his net.

Wenger made a triple substitution, on came Welbeck, Walcott and Iwobi for Campbell. Giroud and Elneny respectively. There were still 23 minutes of the tie to play.

There seemed more zip about the Arsenal game now, Gibbs headed at Pantilimon and Chambers was just wide with his strike, as Watford dug deep.

With just two minutes remaining, Arsenal grabbed a last gasp lifeline. Welbeck played a well executed one – two with Ozil before firing past Pantilimon to finally get Arsenal on the board.

Suddenly the game threw up a different complexion as the Gunnenrs sensed a leveller. It almost came when the pacy Iwobi hit the post and saw the ball come back off the post and Pantillion. Welbeck was well placed for the follow up, but his turn and shot was rising way from the Watcord. goal.wide.

With four minutes of time added on, Arsenal knew that they had to score, a case of now or never. Welbeck muscled his was in on Prodl, but chipped over when he seemed odds on to score.

Despite their continued bombardment however, Arsenal were unable to score to force a replay, and it will now be Watford in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.