After a breathless end to the Premier League saw Man City keep their cool and dispatch Brighton to keep Liverpool away from their EPL crown, the blue half of Manchester can continue their dream of a domestic treble. To bag it, Pep Guardiola’s boys need to see off one of their Premier League rivals in the final, Watford.
The league may have overshadowed the cup in recent years and it’s only really BBC football pundits that cling to the idea of ‘The Magic of the FA Cup’. But even with teams resting players throughout, there’s something about the final itself that just demands our attention. And it’ll get it. First, though? Let’s preview the big match…
Well, we kind of spoiled the surprise in the intro a little, didn’t we? Not that it matters. After all, you already know that it’s City vs. Watford. Blue vs. yellow. Oasis vs. Elton John.
In a battle of two cerebral managerial Spaniards, City against the Hornets looks set to be a decent tie, albeit one where there’ll be a significant favourite. Most neutrals will be hoping to see the lads from Hertfordshire spring a surprise and put a dent in City’s domination in much the same way that Spurs did in Europe.
Watford have already put out three other top flight sides in their run to the final, seeing off Newcastle United, Crystal Palace and Wolves (as well as Woking and QPR). While City have only faced two Prem teams – Burnley and Brighton. But in the five games they’ve taken part in to reach this stage, they have amassed an impressive 20 goals. That’s 4 a game on average. Ouch.
When and where’s it happening?
As ever, the final of the Football Association Cup – to give it its full title – will take place in north west London at the world-famous Wembley Stadium. Found in the London borough of Brent, the 90,000 capacity stadium is the home of the cup final, the England national football team and, unfortunately, the odd Bon Jovi gig.
It’s all happening late afternoon/early evening on Saturday (18th May) afternoon. Kick off is at 5pm.
There was fear from the Watford camp that their star defender José Holebas would be suspended for the game after being sent off in Watford’s Premier League clash with West Ham at the weekend. But the Greek stopper’s red card was rescinded on appeal on Monday.
Watford have no fresh injury concerns, but are still without Sebastian Prodl and Domingos Quina. Etienne Capoue should be fit enough to push for a start.
City are missing no players through suspensions and only have long-term absentee Claudio Bravo out, along with Fernandinho and Benjamin Mendy.
Should Watford triumph against the odds on Saturday, it’ll be the first FA Cup win in their history. They were beaten finalists back in 1984 and have made the semi-finals some five times in the past. Can they break their duck here?
City will be looking for a sixth FA Cup for their trophy cabinet. They’ve only won the competition once in recent memory, though – back in 2011.
To say there is a favourite for the game is something of an understatement. To win in 90 minutes, Manchester City are 1/4 (and 1/6 to lift the cup in any way). Only the very rich and very confident are betting on odds like those. Fancy an upset? You can get 14/1 on the boys in yellow and black (and 11/2 for them to win the thing outright).
If you fancy a little tickle on an anti-City bet, but can’t see them winning, try 16/1 on Troy Deeney to score first.
The FA Cup brings a *certain* amount of magic with it. And there’s little doubt who non-City fans will be wanting to see win come Saturday evening. But with Watford in bad form (three defeats in three), it’s hard to see them getting the better of a City team that are celebrating winning the Premier League but are still decidedly focused.
Watford will huff and they’ll puff, but it’ll be City blowing the house down. We can see a comfortable – if a little drama-free – 3-0 victory. You can find that at a best-priced 7/1.
Or prediction? Man City 3 – 0 Watford.
You could watch it at home. You could watch it on a dodgy stream on bus. You could not watch it all and stare at some ducks down the park… But those are all TERRIBLE ideas. What you should do is get yourself down to your nearest Rileys and watch it with us. Food, drink, games and big tellies. Perfect.