With their comfy 4-0 win at Hull on Tuesday night, Arsenal kept their chance of joining Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers as the only sides to have won the FA Cup in three successive years alive. Indeed, they’re 3.6 favourites to put their name on the trophy once again but standing in their way in the quarter-finals are Quique Sánchez Flores’ Watford. The Hornets have had an excellent season in the Premier League and since they’re in 13th and 13 points clear of the relegation zone, they can have a real go at this competition to top off what’s been a successful campaign.
Arsenal had lost three of five winless games in all competitions heading into the Hull game but they bounced back strongly to continue their excellent record in the Cup. Indeed, the last time they lost in this competition was back in 2013 in a 5th Round home tie against Blackburn that preceded a 3-1 home defeat against Bayern Munich in the Champions League in what was another tough February for the Gunners. Their home record in the FA Cup since 2011/12 is W11-D1-L1 with the Blackburn defeat and the draw against Hull the only blots on their record. They kept a clean sheet in seven of these games, but only led at the break in five. Furthermore, they’ve won all nine of their FA Cup home games against fellow-Premier League sides since 2007/08 with five of these wins by more than one goal as they scored at least twice in eight of these games.
Watford have won all three of their FA Cup matches this season 1-0, at home to Newcastle, at Nottingham Forest and at home to Leeds in the last round. This trip to the Emirates will undoubtedly be the biggest test they’ve faced so far and their form in the league will be a concern for their fans; Flores’ side have lost seven of their last 11 matches with their only wins in that time coming against struggling Palace and Newcastle and they’ve now failed to score in five of their last six. They’ve lost all four of their trips to top-six sides this season, failing to score in three of these games but with only one of the defeats by more than goal as they proved tough to break down, with the first half goalless in all of these matches.
Koscielny and Cech remain absentees for the Gunners while Ramsey is also a doubt following the Hull game. However, since his side are all but out of the Champions League, Wenger is likely to pick close to his strongest possible team in this one with the FA Cup certainly his best chance of silverware again at the moment. As a result, we expect the Gunners to continue their excellent FA Cup record here, but since they’ve only led at the break in two of their last nine at home, while Watford have only trailed at the break three times all season in the league, we’re backing them to take until the second half to exert their dominance.
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