Quique Sanchez Flores’ three excited sons will be in the away end at the Emirates stadium which will be packed with 9,000 fans.
Watford announced this morning they have sold 8,325. tickets for the FA Cup quarter-final with Arsenal, a remarkable achievement given they only went on sale from 10pm on Tuesday.
It is thought to be the club’s largest ever away contingent for a game outside of a cup semi-final, the 1984 cup final and a play-off match. And Jorge, Paulo and Quique Jnr will be in one of the two tiers cheering on their father’s team.
“Of course [they will go],” said Sanchez Flores. “They are already asking for the lineups. ‘Who is playing? ‘Who is playing?’ they asked. I will not tell them until the last moment.”
Sanchez Flores has managed at Getafe, Valencia, Atletico Madrid and Benfica but his sons have not become fans of those teams. “Paulo is Barcelona, Quique is Real Madrid and Jorge just plays football.”
And his daughter?
“Patricia doesn’t support football,” he joked.
Tomorrow’s game will represent only Sanchez Flores’ second ever visit to the Emirates and his first for a competitive match. He was last there in 2007, coaching Valencia to a 2-0 win over Inter Milan and a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain.
“It was an amazing experience, an amazing pitch and amazing stadium. It’s only very new.”
Sanchez Flores and Troy Deeney spoke several times about the manner of the performance at Old Trafford last week, a display full of ambition and progression. The preparations seems to be based around using that match as a template, a reference point.
“Our mentality in the FA Cup is very simple because we don’t have the necessary pressure to play nervous,” Sanchez Flores said. “In the FA Cup we are slowly, step-by-step winning and keeping clean sheets, and with this mentality we have arrived with the opportunity to play in the quarter-final. I know the players are ready, we met today with the idea to clear the mind and to change the mentality for the new competition, and then after we will come back to the league.”
The head coach was annoyed, for one of the few times this season, when his side strayed from the plan and went too gung-ho against the Gunners at Vicarage Road in October. He’ll want them to take calculated attacking risks while not leaving the back door wide open for Arsenal’s fleet-footed attackers.
“Every single match is different,” he said. “To play Arsenal you need to think about preparing for a lot of situations with their amazing players, but we are used to playing against amazing teams during the season.”
Deeney concedes only Watford’s best will do this afternoon.
“We are going to have to be on our A game,” said the captain. “If we can put pressure on them and get their fans nervy then that will be good. You see what Spurs did to them in the first hour, with high pressure and not letting them get comfortable. We can definitely take the positives from our first half against them [in October at Vicarage Road]. And we weren’t firing on full cylinders then.”