Belfast Telegraph

Gracia urges Watford to put cup final on back-burner and focus on Europe race

Watford would go seventh in the Premier League if they beat Arsenal on Monday.

Watford manager Javi Gracia has guided the Hornets to the FA Cup final. (John Walton/PA)
Watford manager Javi Gracia has guided the Hornets to the FA Cup final. (John Walton/PA)

Boss Javi Gracia has told Watford to forget about the FA Cup final and focus on the race for Europe.

The Hornets sit 10th in the Premier League but are very much in the chase for a possible Europa League spot ahead of Monday’s visit of Arsenal.

If Watford beat Manchester City in the FA Cup final they will qualify for Europe but, if they lose, finishing seventh would guarantee a Europa League qualifying spot.

Their rivals, Wolves, Everton and Leicester all lost at the weekend to give Watford the chance to overtake them.

“Our final is against Arsenal – not in May. This is the mentality we will keep and then at the end we will see the position and the points,” he told the club’s website.

“But in this moment, our final is on Monday. My feeling is that the players are really focused on the next game.

“In this moment, I prefer to keep the same attitude we had during all the season, trying to give importance to the next game.”

Gracia gave the squad three days off following their FA Cup semi-final comeback win over Wolves last Sunday as they recovered from 2-0 down with 11 minutes left to win 3-2 after extra time.

As well as reaching the FA Cup final, victory over Arsenal would move the Hornets onto 49 points.

But Gracia remains wary of the fight to be the best of the rest outside the top six.

“I think it’s more than four (challenging),” he said. “The best news is we have to play one game more than the others. We have to take advantage of that chance.

“We are going to play four games at home and two away.”

Semi-final hero Gerard Deulofeu is fit after coming off at Wembley following his two goals with an ankle injury but Jose Holebas is out with a hamstring issue.

Tom Cleverley remains sidelined and Domingos Quina has a shoulder problem.

Gracia also paid tribute to Arsenal boss Unai Emery, his former team-mate in Spain.

“We played together at Real Sociedad many years ago and from that moment we have had a good relationship,” he added.

“When we played together we didn’t know we would be in this situation (playing against each other in the Premier League). We’ve had dinner together twice (since I’ve been in England) and he’s a good friend.”

PA

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