Arsenal 1, Watford 2
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admits he is worried by his faltering team’s home form after Watford sent the FA Cup holders crashing out of the quarter-finals.
Substitute Danny Welbeck gave the Gunners hope with a late strike, after Odion Oghalo and Adlene Guedioura had given the Hornets a shock lead, but squandered a chance to equalise when he missed a last-minute open goal.
Arsenal’s first FA Cup defeat since February 2013 was also their third consecutive loss in all competitions at Emirates Stadium as the north Londoners’ season has unravelled.
“A little bit, yes. I agree that we do not make enough of our domination, of our possession in the final third,” Wenger said when asked if his team’s home struggles were a concern.
“We had enough technical superiority to win the game and to score goals. It was down to not making a mistake and keeping it 0-0 until the last 20 minutes. If we would have done that then we might have won the game.
“Our long, long run has come to an end in a very sad way because I don’t think that we deserved to lose. We have to look at ourselves for the first goal. The second goal was a fantastic shot.”
Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores, meanwhile, is relishing a trip to Wembley after steering the club to their first FA Cup semi-final for nine years in his first campaign.
“I have memories on television of the old Wembley and watching in Spain and seeing the finals of this competition,” he said. “I’ve just arrived in England, and to get there is exciting.”
Arsenal, eight points behind Premier League leaders Leicester and facing likely Champions League elimination at Barcelona on Wednesday, saw midfielder Mohamed Elneny blaze over twice in the first half.
Ighalo punished that wastefulness five minutes after the restart when he collected strike partner Troy Deeney’s flick-on from a long-throw, turned Gabriel and steered a low, close-range shot past David Ospina.
Watford goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon kept out Olivier Giroud’s stabbed attempt before Guedioura lashed the ferocious second goal, Deeney again the provider with patient hold-up play and a lay-off.
Wenger threw on attacking trio Welbeck, Theo Walcott and Alex Iwobi and the former revived hopes in the 88th minute when he collected Mesut Ozil’s back-heel and slotted past Pantilimon from a tight angle.
The England forward could have set up a replay moments later but, when Iwobi’s shot hit a post and Kieran Gibbs cut out Pantilimon with a square ball, a flustered Welbeck shot wide of the gaping net.