Arsenal - Watford preview: Gunners' defence of FA Cup crown intensifies with tough test

Following their resounding victory in midweek, will the Gunners make use of their forward momentum and seal a place in the semi-finals of the FA Cup? Or will the Hornets sting an unwelcome surprise at the Emirates?

Arsenal - Watford preview: Gunners' defence of FA Cup crown intensifies with tough test
Picture source: Watford's official club website

Arsenal will be looking to use their 4-0 victory over Hull City in midweek as a springboard to more success as they entertain Premier League counterparts Watford in Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final fixture at the Emirates. The Gunners have won the competition in consecutive seasons, and are aiming to become the first team to win the trophy three years in a row for the first time since the 1880's.

A much-needed confidence boost for Gunners

Braces for both Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott are sure to have boosted their confidence after similar spells of inconsistency in-front of goal, whilst their resounding victory against Hull ended their five-game winless streak.

Giroud (third right) celebrates one of his two goals alongside Elneny, Chambers and Iwobi at the KC Stadium | Photo: Getty
Giroud (third right) celebrates one of his two goals alongside Elneny, Chambers and Iwobi at the KC Stadium | Photo: Getty

Deeney and Ighalo hungry for goals

Despite this though, Per Mertesacker, Gabriel Paulista and Aaron Ramsey were all limping off the field at the KC Stadium with respective injuries. With that in mind, the former two may feature at some stage against the Hornets, but with a fearsome strikeforce of Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo, it'll be interesting to see how the Gunners manage to cope defensively.

Team news

Laurent Koscielny, who hasn't featured since the side's 3-2 away defeat against Manchester United, is nearing a return - and has resumed first-team training in recent days too. Petr Čech (calf) is set to return after the upcoming international break, whilst Mesut Özil and Alexis Sánchez were both rested in midweek, and could be left on the substitutes' bench again with a trip to the Nou Camp in midweek edging ever closer.

Watford meanwhile, will give defender Craig Cathcart (calf) a late fitness test, whilst Joel Ekstrand is expected to return sometime next week. Miguel Britos is also a doubt, and the Hornets are expected to play the likes of goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon and midfielder Valon Behrami as they aim to prevail with a trip to Wembley only 90 minutes away.

Probable starting XI's

Arsenal: Ospina; Chambers, Mertesacker, Gabriel, Gibbs; Coquelin, Elneny; Campbell, Iwobi, Walcott; Giroud.

Watford: Pantilimon; Nyom, Prödl, Britos, Holebas; Abdi, Behrami, Capoue, Amrabat; Deeney and Ighalo.