Arsene Wenger says Aaron Ramsey is a major injury concern ahead of the quarter-final tie between Arsenal and Watford at the weekend.
The Gunners thrashed Hull, 4-0, in the fifth-round replay at the KC Stadium to set up a last-eight tie with the Hornets at the Emirates stadium on Sunday, kick-off 1.30pm.
However, the win came at a huge cost. Per Mertesacker came off with concussion and was soon followed by Gabriel, leaving Wenger struggling for fit senior centre-halves what with Laurent Koscielny sidelined.
“Ighalo and Deeney will be looking at this back four and fancying their chances,” said Robbie Savage on commentary.
Yet the biggest concern came with the sight of Ramsey limping off just 16 minutes after coming on as a substitute.
“Mertesacker is not serious, just concussion,” the Arsenal manager told BT Sport. “Gabriel looks alright but Ramsey I’m a bit more concerned about. It’s a thigh injury.”
The Wales midfielder scored the third at Vicarage Road in October, capping off a devastating spell of three goals in 12 second-half minutes. Until Alex Sanchez opened the scoring in that Premier League match, Watford had given the Gunners a real run for their money under the lights at Vicarage Road.
“They are a good side,” said Wenger in his post-match interview. “It will be an interesting tie. We play at home and we have some days to prepare. Let’s see if we can recover one or two injuries.”
Arsenal are chasing a historic third straight FA Cup success and have not been beaten in the competition since February 2013, a run stretching back 16 games to a fifth-round tie against Blackburn Rovers.
A trip to the Emirates will represent a swift return to north London for Scott Tingley, Watford’s groundsman who left Arsenal in January to join Watford. It will also be significant for Troy Deeney, whose son Myles is an Arsenal fan, and Obbi Oulare who is an Arsenal supporter.
Sunday’s tie will also evoke memories of the memorable last-eight win over the Gunners in 1987. Luther Blissett scored twice and John Barnes got the other, while David Bardsley arguably had the game of his life, as Graham Taylor’s side won 3-1 at Highbury.
Watford’s quarter-final history:
1931/32: Newcastle (a) L 5-0
1969/70: Liverpool (h) W 1-0
1979/80: Arsenal (h) L 2-1
1983/84: Birmingham (a) W 3-1
1985/86: Liverpool (a) 0-0 (lost 2-1 AET in a replay)
1986/87: Arsenal (a) W 3-1
1987/88: Wimbledon (a) L 2-1
02/03: Burnley (h) W 2-0
06/07: Plymouth (a) W 1-0.
• Watford are hoping to take a record number of away fans for a game outside of a cup semi-final, cup final or play-off game to the Emirates on Sunday. Click HERE for ticket details: