Alexis Sanchez in a terrible slump as Arsenal lose to Watford in FA Cup
Arsenal's chances of an historic third successive FA Cup were dashed as they lost 2-1 to Watford at the Emirates on Sunday.
Arsene Wenger picked a strong side, recalling Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, clearly hoping they'd make an impact from an attacking point of view. Despite plenty of possession, goals were once again the problem.
For the 10th successive game at home, Arsenal failed to take a lead into half time and Watford had looked dangerous on the break.
Gabriel, who was lucky to escape a red card in the first half for a two-footed tackle on Troy Deeney, was turned far too easily to allow Odion Ighalo to put the visitors ahead five minutes into the second period. A thunderbolt from Adlene Guedioura just 12 minutes later left David Ospina with no chance, and Arsenal with everything to do.
Although Danny Welbeck got one back, and probably should have equalised moments later, it was a bridge too far for Wenger's men, and the chances of any silverware this season are now remote.
The paucity of Arsenal's performance was no surprise either. This is a team clearly struggling to find any rhythm or cohesion, and nothing the manager does seems to be working. This raises further legitimate questions over his future, and with a trip to Barcelona in midweek it's probably not going to get better any time soon.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK David Ospina, 6 -- Had little chance with either of the goals, otherwise fine.
DF Calum Chambers, 5 -- He got forward to good effect at times, but the quality of his crossing and final ball really could use some work. Also, his eagerness to make a contribution at that end of the pitch left Arsenal exposed at times. He's a promising player but still with plenty to learn.
DF Per Mertesacker, 7 -- Very good in the first half, and Watford could easily have made the breakthrough much earlier had it not been for some his tackling and interceptions.
DF Gabriel, 4 -- He was very, very lucky that somehow Andre Marriner didn't consider his two-footed lunge worthy of a red card. It was an inexplicable decision from the referee, but perhaps Watford will be glad he stayed on as his defending for the opening goal was atrocious. It's not the first time he's been turned like that either.
DF Kieran Gibbs, 5 -- He looks a shadow of the player who was the established first choice left back not so long ago.
MF Francis Coquelin, 5 -- Full-hearted and committed as ever, but unable to impose himself on the game in any meaningful way.
MF Mohamed Elneny, 6 -- His poor finishing aside, it was a promising display from the Egyptian. He's energetic and provides what is currently a hopelessly static team with some badly needed movement.
MF Mesut Ozil, 6 -- Some brilliant moments of inspiration in the opening 45 minutes in particular, but not for the first time this season Arsenal wasted what he created. Cut an increasingly frustrated figure as the game went on.
MF Joel Campbell, 6 -- Lively and effervescent in the first half, probably unlucky to come off when he was one of the few Arsenal players to provide some measure of consistency in terms of his own performance.
MF Alexis Sanchez, 4 -- It's sad to see the Chilean struggle the way he is at this moment in time. Nothing he tries comes off and the things that were so good about him in his debut season seem to have deserted him. There's no lack of effort, he's just in a terrible slump in form.
FW Olivier Giroud, 5 -- Never managed to threaten in any significant way.
MF Alex Iwobi, 6 -- He is a youngster with real potential, but his readiness to make an impact at this level is questionable.
FW Danny Welbeck, 6 -- Scored a fine goal, but will have nightmares about the chance to equalise. He never got the ball under control and his shot span over, but he's one of the few positives about Arsenal at the moment.
MF Theo Walcott, 5 -- He came on.