Photography Credits: Shaun Botteril
Photo Edits: Laura Brewington
Arsenals dream of winning three consecutive FA Cups for the first time in 130 years is now over, as well as the elimination of the Champions League on Wednesday against Barcelona looking likely.
In all honesty, I thought Arsenal dominated the first half and were heading straight to Wembley. Fantastic one touch passing lead to an early 9 minute goal from Giroud which was disallowed for being offside.Elneny, Sanchez, Campbell and Ozil were creating chances after chances and it was only going to be a matter of time until they found the back of the net. Elneny had missed the two best opportunities of the game so far, and Arsenal should of been given a penalty by a foul from Prodl on Ozil. But yet we were to see any of those chances pay off with a goalless first half.
Arsenal were excellent at getting forward but we see the typical pattern here of Arsenal creating chances and not taking those chances when needed. Subsequently, Watford were outstanding on the counter attack and threatened with every chance they had, taking a comfortable 0-2 lead.
Again we saw a similar pattern in the Arsenal squad, when they are loosing the defence becomes disorganised, their passing rate decreases loosing the ball frequently in the midfield area, and they find themselves yet again in trouble in their own box.
Wenger made three substitutions at the same time shortly after Arsenal were 0-2 down, bringing on Welbeck for Giroud, Iwobi for Elneny and Walcott for Campbell. Welbeck made a great impact in replacement of Giroud who failed to hit the target all match, by scoring a late 88 minute goal making it 1-2. A slight glimmer of hope in the eyes of the gunners.
The Arsenal fans finally had something to cheer about with a nail biting 2 minutes of the match to go plus 4 minutes of extra time. The end of the match all fans were sitting on the edge their chairs when Welbeck was faced with an open goal, Pantillimon out of sight and……. he misses. He missed the biggest chance of the game and probably the biggest miss in his footballing career. Welbeck should have equalised with Pantilimons goal gaping wide open.
The sound of the final whistle couldn’t come soon enough for Watford who were under pressure from Arsenal in the closing stages. But for the gunners, the dreaded sound of the final whistle was torture. Utter torture. Arsenal were dumped out of the FA Cup but lets not forget how outstanding Watfords defence were and how brilliant their counter attacks were.
Arsenal were simply not good enough today and they paid their price. They lacked belief and once they were 0-1 down they then found themselves 0-2 down by a stunning goal from Guedioura.
Ospina didnt have a bad game and he surely kept them from going 0-3 down at one point in the match. His defence let him down with the opening goal by Igahalo because he was unmarked and left in a one on one situation and there was nothing he could do about it. There was no stopping Guedioura’s goal either with the pace on the ball.
Mertesacker displayed quite a poor performance throughout the match. He made some crucial tackles and interceptions during the first half but he just did not mark well and he did not have the pace to handle Igahalo. As a consequence of his poor marking, he left is goalkeeper in sticky situations and gave far too much space for Watfords front men.
Gabriel’s style of play can be somewhat aggressive at times, he was lucky not to have been red carded for the two footed slide tackle on Deeney. But none the less, he made crucial late challenges on Watford’s men that Mertesacker, Chambers and Gibbs were too scared to do. Gabriel did defend well at points in the game, and his upper body strength was a bonus against the likes of Deeney. But one thing I will point out though is how he looks uncomfortable on the ball when under pressure at times and Watford took advantage of that.
Chambers was showing positive play in the first half almost duplicating Bellerin’s style of play. Getting forward, putting in crosses to Giroud and showing great potential down the right wing. But in the second half his pass rate was decreasing and he would easily give the ball away to Watford’s men. In the end he struggled with the switch of play as his pace was not good enough on the counter attacks.
Gibbs showed positive play moving down the left with his fast feet, making some great crosses into the box for Giroud and Ozil. He was always looking to get forward and had some great efforts at keeping the ball in play. In addition, he found himself in good positions nearly scoring from a header in the latter stages. I thought he was great today and deserves a little more play time on the field. I also think his style of play is more suited in a Left Wing position.
Elneny was my joint man of the match along with Ozil. The only player on the field to even attempt a shot at goal outside of the box- and he is known for his long range efforts. He missed two great opportunities in the first half but he found himself in good positions and he took the chances he had. Arsenal desperately needed a player of his quality and determination. Great player and it won’t be long until we see him on the scoresheet.
Coquelin rarely displays a poor performance unless he gets sent off! His passion and determination to win the ball back is something consistent we see in his style of play. And that is exactly what he did today. He won the ball back for Arsenal numerous amounts of time and he never gives up. Coquelin does his job on the field and owns his role.
Campbell would have been my third choice of man of the match. He was always looking to get forward and he would try ever so hard to win the ball back if they lost it. Again a player that never gives up. He consistently chased the Watford’s defence when they had the ball and he was a threat down the right with his crosses and skilful footwork. On many occasions he danced around the players in the box and created many great chances for the team.
What can you say about Ozil? His skilful footwork, passes and vision are the main reason why Arsenal had any chances of moving into Watford’s box. He was one of the only players on the field who could get past Watford’s defence and make something happen. He never looses the ball, he always picked out spaces for his teammates and he has a very good vision of where every Arsenal player is on the field. There is no other player at Arsenal who understands the team so well. Ozil should be Arsenals captain.
Sanchez was not himself today at all. He often gave away the ball to Watford’s men and he always found himself in tight spaces taking on too many Watford players at once. We all know how much Sanchez likes to score but none of his shots were on target today and he took too many shots when surrounded by too many Watford players.
There were high hopes for Giroud today given his two goals against Hull earlier in the week. But again, he didn’t do much on the pitch today. He didn’t find himself in the right places when needed and he often failed to hit the target. At time, I forgot he was even playing today apart form when he had one header that was nearly on target.
Showed some great footwork and determination to keep the ball in Watford’s box at the latter stages but he was not played long enough to create much of an impact. I think he should have been given the opportunity at the start of the match.
Welbeck made a great impact coming off the bench and is a proven goalscorer since he has come back from injury. He managed to find the back of the net quicker than Giroud who had been playing for 88 minutes. Although he missed an open goal, I think the match would have ended differently if he had started instead of Giroud. Welbeck chases the ball, and can come on and score goals for Arsenal. At the moment Giroud is lacking that quality and determination.
Walcott did not make much of an impact in fact, I barely noticed his work rate when he came on the pitch. He did not do enough and only found himself in a good position once, which he was offside for.