Watford the cup conquerors at Arsenal
Written By: Robert Halter
Watford were looking to knock out F.A. Cup holders Arsenal at the Emirates stadium mid March. In the opening minute from a pull back by Joel Campbell and a clip across from the right by Calum Chambers, the advancing Alexis Sanchez missed his footing in range of the target. Ten minutes into the match, the Hornets had a reprieve as Campbell combined with Sanchez, whose pass through to Olivier Giroud was caught offside, as the French striker rolled the ball past Costel Pantilimon, into the centre of the net. Midway through the first half as Campbell slid the ball over to Chambers, his diagonal right wing cross was latched upon by Pantilimon. The Golden Boys pressed forward on twenty six minutes, as an over the top ball by Eitenne Capoue, found Watford marksman, Odion Ighalo, whose pass across was cut out by Gunners captain, Per Mertesacker with the Hornets captain, Troy Denney, lurking at the far post. Three minutes later, Deeney was left worse for wear from a double footed lunge on him by Gabriel Paulista, who escaped a booking. On the half hour mark, Chambers opened up space for Mohamed Elneny, but he lashed at the ball to spin his strike over the right side of the goal. In the forty first minute, as Mesut Ozil drifted past Nathan Ake, a neat touch by Campbell was blasted over the bar from Elneny. But a minute later, from an incisive pass down the middle from Ozil, the outstretched leg of Campbell lofted the ball over while in sight of the target, to let the Hornets off the hook going into the half time break. At the start of the second half, Ozil’s corner was met with a cushioned header by Giroud which landed on the outside netting of the crossbar. But against the run of play, Watford went ahead in the fiftieth minute, when from Ake’s throw in, a knock on by Deeney was driven past David Ospina, into the right corner by Ighalo. Two minutes later, from Allan Nyom’s right sided cross and a header over by Deeney, the ball was fired over by Ighalo, who went close to scoring again. But on fifty five minutes, Arsenal went in search of an equaliser as a lay off from Kieran Gibbs was connected by Elneny, into the reach of Pantilimon. Then on the hour mark, from an Ake ball across on the left, it was just too far over for Ighalo, to grab his second of the game. In the next two minutes, Ighalo stumbled in the box, when found in the clear by Deeney, after he was left unmarked by Mertesacker. Arsenal responded on sixty three minutes, when a snap shot by Giroud was blocked by Pantilimon, from Campbell’s pass. But Watford had their passage booked through to the semi final at Wembley, when Deeney’s pull back to Adlene Guedioura, was met at full throttle as the ball rocketed into the top right corner, a minute later. A rescue act by Craig Cathcart, snuffed out Giroud from a cross by Chambers before Ozil’s corner was put wide by a scissors kick from Giroud, midway through the half. Arsenal then changed Elneny with Alex Iwobi, Campbell with Danny Welbeck and Giroud with Theo Walcott before Watford replaced Capoue with Ikechi Anya and then goal scorer Guedioura with Almen Abdi. The Gunners stranglehold on the competition was slipping after Gibbs headed the ball into Pantilimon from a Sanchez cross before the Hornets goal scorer Ighalo made way for Nordin Amrabat. The Gunners afternoon was summed up as from another Sanchez assist, Chambers miss fired wide of the mark. On eighty six minutes, from a miss placed pass by Francis Coquelin, a ball through from Deeney to Anya, was cut out by Ospina. But Arsenal got a goal back near the end as Sanchez supplied Ozil, whose back heel fell to Welbeck, who rammed the ball into the right side of the goal. But after Amrabat drove the ball wide, the Gunners were soon denied by the inside of the left post from Iwobi’s strike which ricocheted onto Pantilimon as Gibbs touch was then put wide by Welbeck. After Welbeck spurned another chance from a ball over by Coquelin and then later Iwobi drove a strike wide, it caused a cup defeat for Arsenal.