Holders eliminated from the competition for the first time since 2013
Arsenal’s dominance in the FA Cup is over after they suffered a 2-1 defeat at home to Watford this lunch-time.
The Gunners have won the competition back-to-back, after beating Hull City and Aston Villa respectively in the two finals, but they will have to wait until at least next year to win it back after suffering elimination today.
Arsenal only played their Fifth Round match on Tuesday evening, a 4-0 win against Hull at the KC Stadium, whilst Watford have slowly made their way to the Quarter-Finals after winning every game 1-0.
Despite facing FC Barcelona in a few days, Arsene Wenger named a very strong team for the match, as did Quique Flores, with Watford’s status in the Premier League safe for another year.
As expected, it was early possession for Arsenal, but apart from a few close openings, they failed to create any clear-cut chances. As for Watford, they could have had chances had Odion Ighalo fed Troy Deeney on a plate a few days.
The Hornets did sting the Gunners however early in the second-half as Ighalo turned Gabriel, who was lucky to still be on the pitch after a horrific tackle in the first-half, and slammed the ball past David Ospina.
Instead of firing the players up, the goal seemed to deflate Arsenal, and 13-minutes later it was 2-0 as Adlène Guedioura smashed a rocket home past the helpless Ospina.
Arsenal gave themselves a glimmer of hope when Danny Welbeck came off the bench to make it 2-1 on the 88th-minute, but it was all to late for the hosts.
Alex Iwobi hit the post before Welbeck failed to convert the rebound and that was that.
Arsenal’s dominance in the FA Cup is over and it will be Watford going to Wembley.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: “Our fantastic run has come to an end on a day where we felt that our performance deserved a win. Credit to Watford, they created few chances but took them all. It’s sad because we gave everything.
“The players don’t miss on purpose. You have to be realistic. Of course on the first goal, we made a mistake. It was not possible medically to have started Welbeck.
“It is very difficult against Barcelona, but we have to see it as a challenge and try to make the impossible possible.”
Watford captain Troy Deeney: “I thought we deserved it, we stuck to the game plan well, counter-attacked well and had opportunities.
“Me and Iggy (Odion Ighalo) have been doing that all season and we’ve been getting some stick from the press that we haven’t scored in three or four games, but there were a lot of unsung heroes out there for us today.
“The most bragging rights I’ve got is my son is an Arsenal fan so he has to make the teas in the house today. But we’re going to Wembley and for the town it will be a massive occasion. We don’t want to just go there and make up the numbers.”
Adlene Guedioura, who scored his side’s second goal, says: “We worked hard, it was a good game and we’re happy to go to Wembley.
“All week the manager tried to explain that it would be like this and with the plan we had, it was fine.
“We worked hard until the end of the game and hopefully we go further than the semi-final. It will be a great day for the fans.”
Written by Alex Batt – @AlexBatt