The Emirates FA Cup was on again this weekend and we had a great chance to go to Wembley for a third season in a row with a home game against Watford.
However, Watford are no pushover and have surprised everyone this season. The strike partnership between Ighalo and Deeney has been particularly good and I knew they would cause our defence some problems.
We made a few changes to the side who beat Hull in the 5th round replay. As you would expect in a big cup game, key players Özil, Sanchez and Coquelin (who returned from his suspension) started showing we were taking it very seriously. It was arguably our best chance of winning a trophy this season and there was also a chance of winning it three times in a row which has only ever been done two times in the history of the FA cup.
The first half was evenly matched with few chances but we were very lucky when Gabriel made a strong 50-50 tackle without any action given. This was later seen on replays as being two footed and he should have been sent off as a result.
So it stayed with each team having 11 men fortunately but it didn’t help us as we couldn’t score. Elneny perhaps had the best chances but he smashed it over the bar twice. We also had other half chances but couldn’t break the deadlock and it was all square at half time.
A poor half but we were the better side and I felt we had more than enough to win the match. Watford hadn’t created anything but defended well and were importantly still in the game.
The second half was a different story though and looking back now I would have definitely taken another half like the first half.
After just 5 minutes, Watford unfortunately took the lead out of nothing. It came from a throw on which was nodded on by Deeney and it fell to Ighalo who turned Gabriel and put it in past Ospina. It was dreadful defending from us and a very soft goal to concede. It was evidence though of their strike partnership working for them again and we now needed to come from behind.
The goal gave them confidence though and they grew into the game more by creating some chances. Ighalo could have added a second as we struggled to cope with their counter attacks.
They did eventually get their reward though and it was a great goal. Özil surprisingly lost the ball only for them to break and Deeney once again was the provider. He held up the ball and set up Guedioura who smashed it into the top corner past Ospina who maybe should have done better. Would Cech have saved it?
So we were 2-0 down and had it all to do. We tried to get back into the game creating many chances but we just couldn’t score.
This was until substitute Danny Welbeck came on and completely changed the game. Giroud had been ineffective and Welbeck soon gave us a lifeline. It obviously came from an Özil assist as he back-heeled it to him and Welbeck slot it in to make it 2-1 with a few minutes left.
Welbeck then should have got an incredible equaliser a minute later as Iwobi hit the post. It fell to him and he had an open goal only for him to put it wide. I couldn’t believe it along with everyone else but it was then when you thought it wasn’t going to be our day.
Welbeck had another chance that he missed in the last few minutes in what was a sensational end to the game. If only we had played like that the whole game or at least for a bit longer! Also questions have to be asked about why Welbeck didn’t start. Apparently he wasn’t fully fit and it would have been a risk to play him but surely it was worth the risk?
So Watford hung on for a famous victory and are in the FA Cup semi final. It also means that we won’t win it three times in a row but you can’t win it every year! The defeat does put more pressure though on Wenger but I think he deserves to stay still.
We now have to focus on the league where we still have a slight chance although Leicester have extended their lead at the top now having played a game extra. Next up for us is Barcelona in the Champions League on wednesday and it will be a miracle if we go through. But stranger things have happened!