Wembley-bound: sensational Watford end title-holders Arsenal's reign after dumping them out of FA Cup
Odion Ighalo and Adlene Guedioura strike to give Hornets 2-1 quarter-final victory at the Emirates with the Gunners now facing the prospect of a trophyless season
Odion Ighalo and Adlene Guedioura struck as Watford ended Arsenal’s two-year reign as FA Cup holders with a brilliant 2-1 quarter-final victory at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
Ighalo put Watford ahead in the 50th minute before Troy Deeney teed up Algeria winger Guedioura to slam a right-foot screamer into the top-right corner, with Danny Welbeck’s 88th-minute reply coming too late.
Triumphant in the FA Cup in 2014 and 2015, Arsenal were beaten in the competition for the first time since a 1-0 fifth-round defeat by Blackburn Rovers in February 2013.
It left them facing the prospect of a trophyless season, with Arsene Wenger’s side – booed off at the final whistle – eight points off the pace in the English Premier League and 2-0 down to Barcelona ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 return leg at Camp Nou.
“I thought we deserved it, we stuck to the game plan well, counter-attacked well and had opportunities,” said Watford captain Troy Deeney.
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“Me and Iggy [Odion Ighalo] have been doing that all season and we’ve been getting some stick from the press that we haven’t scored in three or four games, but there were a lot of unsung heroes out there for us today.
“The most bragging rights I’ve got is my son is an Arsenal fan so he has to make the teas in the house today. But we’re going to Wembley and for the town it will be a massive occasion. We don’t want to just go there and make up the numbers.”
Goalscorer Guedioura said: “We worked hard, it was a good game and we’re happy to go to Wembley.
“All week the manager tried to explain that it would be like this and with the plan we had, it was fine.
“We worked hard until the end of the game and hopefully we go further than the semi-final. It will be a great day for the fans.”
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said: “Our fantastic run has come to an end on a day where we felt that our performance deserved a win. Credit to Watford, they created few chances but took them all. It’s sad because we gave everything.
“The players don’t miss on purpose. You have to be realistic. Of course on the first goal, we made a mistake.
“Now it will be very difficult against Barcelona, but we have to see it as a challenge and try to make the impossible possible.”