Arsenal’s bid to capture a third straight FA Cup title ended with a 2-1 loss to Watford in the quarterfinals on Sunday, while Anthony Martial’s late goal earned Manchester United a replay against West Ham.
In the Premier League, Harry Kane scored twice as Tottenham beat last-place Aston Villa 2-0 to trim the gap to Leicester to two points ahead of the surprise leader’s match against Newcastle on Monday.
Odion Ighalo and Adlene Guedioura – with a fiercely struck shot from the edge of the area – scored second-half goals for Watford, which joined Crystal Palace and Everton in an unlikely lineup for the semifinals at Wembley Stadium.
It ended Arsenal’s best chance of silverware this season and was the worst possible start to a make-or-break week for Arsene Wenger’s team, which is likely to be eliminated from the Champions League by Barcelona on Wednesday before a crucial match against Everton next weekend in its fading Premier League title challenge.
“Our fantastic run has come to an end on a day where we felt that our performance deserved a win,” Wenger said.
United was held 1-1 by West Ham, which went ahead through Dimitri Payet’s sublime 30-meter free kick before Martial equalized in the 83rd at Old Trafford.
Payet possibly shouldn’t have been on the field to score, having escaped a second yellow card for diving minutes earlier, while United midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger could have been penalized for obstructing West Ham goalkeeper Darren Randolph for Martial’s goal.
It means the Boleyn Ground will host one more FA Cup match before West Ham leaves for the Olympic Stadium next season.
Kane moved level with Leicester striker Jamie Vardy as the league’s top scorer in 19 goals after scoring in the 45th and 48th minutes against Villa, which slipped even closer to relegation. Dele Alli, Kane’s England teammate, set up both goals at Villa Park.
Given the struggles of Arsenal and Manchester City in third and fourth, it is looking increasingly like a two-team race for the title between Leicester and Spurs – a highly unlikely scenario at the start of the season.
Arsenal played a full-strength lineup – an indication of Wenger’s priorities ahead of the second leg against Barcelona, which is 2-0 ahead. But an attack featuring Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud struggled to cause Watford’s defense many problems before a late flurry of chances, including Danny Welbeck’s 88th-minute goal and Alex Iwobi’s shot against the post.
Arsenal has now won just one game in its last seven in a familiar early-spring collapse, with the pressure starting to grow on Wenger.
Arsenal had been looking to become the first team in 130 years to win the FA Cup for three straight years.
Ighalo opened the scoring in the 50th when he received a flick-on from strike partner Troy Deeney, evaded marker Gabriel and tucked a finish from eight meters into to the bottom corner.
Guedioura made it 2-0 by smashing an angled drive into the roof of net, inside David Ospina’s near post, from Ighalo’s lay-off.
Watford reached the semifinals of the world’s oldest knockout competition for the sixth time in its history, in its first season under coach Quique Sanchez Flores.
“I have memories on television of the old Wembley and watching in Spain and seeing the finals of this competition,” Flores said. “Now it is a new Wembley, I’ve just arrived in England, and to get there is exciting.”