Arsenal v Watford preview: Gabriel and Per Mertesacker set for FA Cup comebacks
By Jack Wilkinson
Last Updated: 13/03/16 1:36pm
Arsene Wenger hopes to have defensive duo Gabriel and Per Mertesacker available for Arsenal's FA Cup quarter-final clash at home to Watford on Sunday.
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.
Gabriel and Mertesacker could feature at the Emirates as Arsenal remain on the hunt for a third consecutive FA Cup triumph, as too could fellow centre-back Laurent Koscielny (calf).
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.
Watford have won all three of their FA Cup games this season by a 1-0 scoreline.
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.
The Hornets have won their last two FA Cup quarter-final ties, but were beaten semi-finalists both times (2003 and 2007).
Arsenal haven't lost three home games in a row in all competitions since November 2002.
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.
Watford have hit a bit of a brick wall. They have done brilliantly this season, but it's just started to catch up with them. They're struggling to score goals and to win football matches.
This is a massive game for Arsenal. For me, this is their meaningful chance of silverware because I would be shocked if they won the league from here.
They are going to get absolutely rinsed in the Champions League, but my worry is Arsene Wenger could rest players for the Watford game and take his strongest team to Barcelona. It would not surprise me one bit, but this is a big game for Arsenal.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-0 (Sky Bet, 6/1)