Arsenal vs Watford – Match preview and team news

Arsenal will be hoping to extend their incredible run in the FA Cup to another Wembley semi-final, as they host a Watford side that can always be relied upon to provide stubborn resistance.

A shocking error from Hull City’s David Meyler may just have proved to be the break that Arsenal and indeed Olivier Giroud needed to put an end to their faltering form. The Frenchman ended his barren run of 11 games without a goal by netting the opener in the replay against the Tigers in midweek and then went on to grab a second as his side won convincingly thanks to some clinical finishing.

It has been a tricky spell for the club as manager Arsene Wenger has come in for criticism due to a disappointing run of results since the turn of the year, and although that win on Humberside came at the cost of a couple of injuries, it has the potential to have brought back some of the confidence that has disappeared in recent months. Goals have been a problem at home of late, however, so it will be interesting to see how they go about things against such a determined defensive unit here.

The visitors will fancy their chances as they will sense an opportunity to not just get the chance to go to Wembley, but to go all the way in this competition, which would really crown a stunning first season in charge for Quique Flores. In order to achieve that they will need to get back on the goals trail, having struggled to trouble the scorers in recent weeks as too much pressure is being put on the front two of Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo to deliver.

The duo dovetail well and if they avoid being isolated and get into good forward positions they have the potential to cause the Gunners defence real problems. It will also be interesting to see what kind of line-up Wenger puts out as he prepares for a trip to Barcelona on Wednesday, so that could also turn out to be a source of inspiration for Watford. In any case, Arsenal will still be strong favourites to advance here.

Aaron Ramsey will be out for Arsenal, who do at least have defenders Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista available despite being forced off at Hull.

The visitors should have Miguel Britos, but fellow central defender Craig Cathcart is a major doubt. Joel Ekstrand and Jose Manuel Jurado remain on the sidelines.

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