BY ANDREW McSTEEN
Crystal Palace midfielder James McArthur lost out on the chance of a second FA Cup win to his name as the Eagles crashed out in the quarter-finals yesterday.
The South Londoners lost 2-1 at Watford with a Michy Batshuayi strike for Palace in the 62nd minute sandwiched between Watford goals from Etienne Capoue in the 27th minute and the winner from Andre Gray, 11 minutes from time.
“It’s devastating to be honest,” said the player who won the competition with Wigan in 2013. “I can’t really put it into words; we’ve come so close and it’s really disappointing.
“In the first half we weren’t good enough, but in the second half we put them under a lot more pressure. We came out and gave it a lot better go. Our passing was better, we created a couple more opportunities, and tried to stop them.
“We got back in the game and we were in the ascendency. We could see their fans starting to turn, but they got the all-important goal and it wasn’t to be.We’ve had a good run in the cup, but we let ourselves down today.”
Wilfried Zaha was not named in the Palace squad for the match, having been ruled out due to injury and with an international break now, Roy Hodgson’s side – who are not safe from Premier League relegation yet – do not play again until March 30.
“He’s obviously a miss for us,” said McArthur about the omission of Zaha from the team. “He’s one of the best players in our team so if you take your best players out of the team then you’re going to miss them.
“If we had been sitting in there [the changing room before the game] and seen one of their best players is missing we would have got that boost, but it wasn’t to be and now it’s about picking yourselves up and trying to get going again.
“We need to take a rest and try and be ready to kick on for an important end of the season. We need to start winning football matches and get up that table; that’s the aim.
“For me, yes it (international break) has come at a very good time and maybe a lot of other people as well – hopefully everyone comes back from international duty fit and we’re ready to kick on.”