Saturday 25 November 2017

Wenger wary of Hornets hitmen

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images Newsdesk Newsdesk

Arsene Wenger may have a full quota of fit centre-backs to chose from against Watford today, but the Arsenal boss still fears the threat of Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo.

The Hornets make the trip to the Emirates Stadium for their FA Cup sixth-round tie, with a place at a Wembley semi-final the prize for the victor. Arsenal, in search of their third FA Cup success on the bounce, came through a replay at Hull to set up a clash with their Premier League rivals.

Wenger lost both of his centre-backs on Tuesday as Gabriel and Per Mertesacker were forced off with injuries. He is hopeful both will be available, while fellow defender Laurent Koscielny could also be fit, having recovered from a calf injury.

But the manager is wary of the threat posed by Watford's two strikers. "They have done extremely well," Wenger said of Watford's first season back in the top flight. "It looks like the Championship teams that come up now deal very well with the Premier League regime.

"They have two strikers who are efficient with Ighalo and Deeney, and we worked very hard to control the game (last time we played them). When we played against Watford, Deeney had not scored for a long time. After us he started to score. During the game I was impressed by him. They have a good understanding between the strikers."

With Alexis Sanchez scoring the equaliser in last Saturday's draw at Tottenham and Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott hitting two apiece at Hull, Wenger believes his side can put together a strong run.

"I haven't given up on the Premier League, nor the Champions League," he said. "We have to take care of the next minute, and the next minute is an FA Cup game. I feel we can have a run, but we know how quickly it can change. We lost two games and suddenly looked like we would be in the Championship next year. All we know is we can not afford any more slips-ups like we had against Swansea (a 2-1 home defeat)."

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