Arsene Wenger hopes to have defensive duo Gabriel and Per Mertesacker available for Arsenal’s FA Cup quarter-final clash at home to Watford today as they prepare to confront Super Eagle’s striker Odion Ighalo. The holders eased into the last eight with a 4-0 fifth-round replay victory at Hull on Tuesday, although the game was marred by a number of injuries sustained to key personnel.
Meanwhile, Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores has late decisions to make on Craig Cathcart and Jose Manuel Jurado ahead of the game. The pair have been suffering from calf injuries and are being monitored.
Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey is out and could face a month on the sidelines with a thigh injury sustained at the KC Stadium. Jack Wilshere (leg), Tomas Rosicky (thigh), Petr Cech (calf), Santi Cazorla and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (both knee) are all still missing.
For Watford, Flores has ruled out Miguel Britos (hamstring) for the tie and Joel Ekstrand (also hamstring) remains on the sidelines.
But the Spaniard confirmed Costel Pantilimon would continue in goal for the FA Cup after playing well against Nottingham Forest and Leeds in the earlier rounds.
Arsenal have won four of their FA Cup meetings with Watford (L1), including their last meeting in the third round en route to winning the trophy in 2002. However, Watford’s solitary win in the competition over Arsenal came the last time they met in north London (3-1 in the 1987 quarter-final).
Arsene Wenger’s side have won 15 consecutive rounds of the FA Cup. The record is 16, which the Gunners jointly hold. The Gunners are unbeaten in their last 21 all-Premier League home FA Cup ties (W15 D6). Their last such defeat came against Leeds in 1997.
Quique Sanchez Flores’ side have failed to score in each of their last three games in all competitions, since their FA Cup fifth-round win over Leeds.
Later in the evening, Manchester United will be looking to make it five home wins in a row when they welcome West Ham United to Old Trafford for the day’s second FA Cup quarter-final. Although their form has been strong at home, Louis van Gaal’s men go into this clash on the back of a 2-0 defeat to Liverpool in the Europa League – a game in which they had just one shot on target.
West Ham, who last won the FA Cup in 1980, are enjoying a fine spell of form under Slaven Bilic, winning their last four games in all competitions.
Juan Mata will miss the game with through suspension but Jesse Lingard returns having served a ban in the Europa League clash with Liverpool, while Adnan Januzaj and Timothy Fosu-Mensah are available having been ineligible for Thursday’s match.
Wayne Rooney (knee), Luke Shaw (leg), Ashley Young (groin/pelvis) and Will Keane (groin) remain absent, but Antonio Valencia, Phil Jones and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson are nearing returns.
West Ham can welcome back Enner Valencia, Victor Moses and Joey O’Brien. Valencia has recovered from a sprained ankle, Moses is fit after a quad injury and O’Brien has shaken off hamstring trouble.
This is the ninth time these sides have been drawn in the FA Cup – the previous eight have alternated between West Ham progressing twice and United progressing twice. The Red Devils have progressed the last two times they’ve faced West Ham in the FA Cup, meaning West Ham would go through if the sequence was to continue.
The Hammers are winless in their last nine trips to Old Trafford in all competitions (D1 L8), since Carlos Tevez’s strike kept them in the Premier League on the final day of the 2006/07 season.
Manchester United have lost their last two FA Cup home games against fellow Premier League sides, both by a 2-1 scoreline (Swansea in 2014 and Arsenal in 2015).