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FA Cup Final Preview – Man City vs. Watford

The FA Cup final takes place at on Saturday afternoon, as Watford try to prevent Manchester City from completing an unprecedented domestic treble. We’ve put together all the information you need on the Wembley Stadium showpiece.


When is it?

The match kicks off at 17:00 on Saturday and will be broadcast live on BBC1. However, coverage begins at 15:55.



First contested in 1871, the FA Cup is the oldest club competition in the world.

The first ever tournament was won by Wanderers, who now compete in the Surrey South Eastern Combination League. They went on to win seven of the first ten competitions.

The most successful side in the history of the FA Cup are Arsenal, who have won it on 13 occasions, one more than Manchester United. The next best, Chelsea and Tottenham, have each won it eight times.

This year’s favourites, Manchester City, have won the FA Cup five times but will go level with Newcastle and Blackburn Rovers in seventh if they emerge victorious.

Two finals have produced seven goals. In 1890 Blackburn hammered Sheffield Wednesday 6-1 and in 1953 Blackpool edged Bolton Wanders 4-3 in a thriller.

Ashley Cole is the most successful player in the tournament’s history, winning it seven times. His manager for three of those, Arsene Wenger, has the best record a coach, also winning seven.

Ian Rush has scored the most goals in the history of the final, scoring five times for Liverpool in three finals between 1986 and 1992.


Team News

Man City: Fernandinho and Kevin De Bruyne could feature and would be welcome returns after layoffs. Fernandinho has been out since injuring his knee in April’s Manchester derby whilst De Bruyne made his return last week against Brighton, following hamstring troubles. Claudio Bravo and Benjamin Mendy remain out.

Watford: Watford will be able to field Jose Holebas after an appeal against his red card against West Ham was upheld on Monday. Etienne Capoue, previously out with groin problems, made his comeback on Sunday and could be in contention to start. Domingos Quina and Sebastian Prodl will miss out through injury.



Fresh of the back of thumping Brighton 4-1 to claim the Premier League title, Manchester City are hoping to become the first English side to achieve the domestic treble of league, FA Cup and League Cup.

They come into the match in startlingly good form, having won seven matches in a row since their 1-0 defeat to Tottenham in the Champions League quarter-finals. It is their only defeat in their last 22 matches and they have won 20 of those.

Watford, on the other hand, ended the season on a distinctly low note, losing their final three games whilst conceding nine goals. A 2-1 victory over hapless Huddersfield in April is their only win in six.


Head to head

Unfortunately the head-to-head record doesn’t make much great reading for fans of The Hornets. They have failed to defeat Manchester City in their previous 15 encounters, with their last win occurring in 1989.

City have won 13 of those 15 including the last ten. In their last five meetings, the aggregate scoreline has been 19-3 in favour of City.


Manager’s View

Pep Guardiola: “Watford and Wolves are the best teams outside of the top 6. Javi Gracia is an experienced manager and I think he is an excellent guy, an excellent manager and knows exactly what to do.”

Javi Gracia: “You never know what is going to happen, even if you are playing against one of the best teams in the world. We have to be ready to show our best and if we can find a way to compete against them, then we can do it.”


Key Battles

Vincent Kompany vs. Troy Deeney

Captain fantastic Vincent Kompany proved to be the hero a couple of weeks ago, scoring an unlikely screamer to give City victory over Leicester in their penultimate league match, which ultimately won them the title. However, many disgruntled Liverpool and Leicester fans felt he should have been sent off.

Kompany tends to put in at least one reckless challenge a game and, against a wind-up merchant like Troy Deeney who likes to ‘put himself about’, there could be fireworks. Deeney is a handful and Kompany isn’t quite the defender he once was. This could be the key to Watford’s attacking success.


Etienne Capoue vs. Fernandinho

The midfield battle will surely be decided by the two enforcers; Etienne Capoue and Fernandinho.

Capoue, Watford’s player of the year, leads Watford in tackles this season having made 90. That is 17 more than Will Hughes in second place and is the eighth highest in the league.

Fernandinho has made 57, the highest of any Manchester City player. Though it’s 33 less than Capoue, the Brazilian has played over 500 minutes less in the league. Additionally, with City tending to dominate possession, you would expect him to have less to do in most matches.

Whoever wins this midfield battle will give their side a huge edge in controlling the pace and tempo of the game.


Raheem Sterling vs. Craig Cathcart

Craig Cathcart has been quietly impressive in the heart of defence for Watford this season. However, he will truly have his hands full when faced with the pace and trickery of Raheem Sterling, who just seems to get better and better.

Sterling has scored 35 goals in 64 league games for Manchester City in the last two seasons. Not a bad return for a player who was once criticised for his wayward shooting.

If Sterling is allowed to run riot then Watford may as well go home, so keeping him quiet will be Watford, and Craig Cathcart’s, single biggest objective on Saturday.



It’s not brave and it will come as no surprise but I can’t see any outcome other than a Manchester City victory. There have been some surprise winners of the FA Cup in the past but Watford are unlikely to be one of them.

Manchester City have started games slowly recently so I wouldn’t be surprise if it was still goalless at half time, but ultimately class will show and City will win 2-0 or 3-0.

If you want to bet on the match, then check out our football pools.


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