One game from Wembley yet again!
Since the start of the 2013/14 season, Arsenal have won 15 consecutive FA Cup ties. They’ve included four matches at Wembley and have led to two more in the Community Shield. It’s become our second home very quickly, but that’s what success will make any place feel like.
Make it 16 consecutive FA Cup ties against Watford on Sunday, which would equal a club record set from 2002-2004, and it’ll be a seventh Wembley appearance in the last two years.
Arsène Wenger faced the media on Friday afternoon and was happy to talk all things from injuries to FA Cup and spying on Sunday’s opponents. He wasn’t, however, happy to agree that Arsenal are now favourites to win the competition yet again.
“We have a chance like everyone else,” said the Frenchman. “We want to play as hard as we can to give ourselves a good chance to be successful.”
There are huge games against Everton and Barcelona coming up in the next week, but Wenger insisted the focus is completely on Watford for the time being.
In Tuesday’s fifth-round replay defeat of Hull City, Arsenal lost Per Mertesacker, Gabriel and Aaron Ramsey to injury.
The two defenders should be fine to play this weekend though Gabriel hasn’t yet trained with the team. Ramsey, on the other hand, is set to miss four weeks. Laurent Koscielny also hasn’t trained with the team this week but could make his return, as Wenger admitted he may ‘gamble’ with him.
Petr Čech, Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Tomas Rosicky remain injured. Francis Coquelin, Danny Welbeck and Héctor Bellerín should return to the squad.
Possible XI: Ospina; Bellerín, Chambers, Mertesacker, Monreal; Coquelin, Elneny; Campbell, Özil, Alexis; Giroud.
Friday’s press conference also saw Wenger hail Watford and the way they have dealt with promotion from the Championship.
After a good start to the season, the Hornets have sunk to 13th in the Premier League and started to look a little less secure. Their strong form was heavily reliant on the goalscoring prowess of strikeforce Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney, but both strikers have struggled for goals in 2016. They will still be very dangerous this weekend and Arsenal need to be aware of their threat. As a result, the Hornets have won just two of their 11 Premier League games since Christmas.
They remain strong at the back though, all three of their FA Cup ties so far have ended 1-0.
Watching their club in a first FA Cup quarter-final since 2007, there will be 9000 Watford fans in the Clock End on Sunday willing the team on. Let’s hope they don’t enjoy the game.
Possible XI: Gomes; Nyom, Prödl, Aké, Holebas; Abdi, Behrami, Suárez, Capoue; Deeney, Ighalo.
Arsenal are just 90 minutes from another Wembley appearance. The FA Cup has been so kind to us the last two seasons, and we’re close to making history.
Before then there is the small matter of a quarter-final. Win it and lift the mood in north London, please send us down Wembley Way again.