The FA Cup final takes place at Wembley on Saturday afternoon, kicking off at 5:00pm local time. The two teams squaring off in this illustrious final is recently crowned Premier League champions Manchester City, and Watford – reaching their second ever FA Cup final.
Manchester City are overwhelming favourites to complete a domestic treble, but the FA Cup produces magic like no other competition. Who will lift the trophy on Saturday?
Manchester City – Form, Road to Wembley, Team News
Manchester City had to wait until the final day, but finally secured their Premier League trophy with a 4-1 win at Brighton on the last day.
They were pushed all the way by Liverpool, meaning they had to reach a points tally of 98 in order to retain their title. Manchester City had retained the title, becoming the first team to do so in 10 years, and Pep Guardiola became only the 3rd manager to do it in Premier League history.
They have already won the Community Shield, and Carabao Cup at Wembley this season, both against Chelsea, and also beat Brighton in the semi-final of the FA Cup. They have won 21 out of their last 22 matches, and will hope for a 5th consecutive win at the Wembley stadium.
Manchester City cruised through in the earlier rounds of the FA Cup, beating Rotherham and Burnley 7-0 and 5-0 respectively. In the last 16, they were drawn with League Two Newport County and won 4-1. Their toughest fixture came in the quarter finals, when they faced Swansea away, and were 2-0 down in the first half.
Three second-half goals from Manchester City turned it around for them to win 3-2 and send them to the semi-finals, where they would face Brighton, and it was an early Gabriel Jesus goal that saw them win narrowly 1-0.
Fernandinho remains a doubt for Manchester City, who is recovering from a knee injury, but there is a better chance Kevin de Bruyne may return to the starting line-up as he came on against Brighton in the final stages of that game. Other than that, Manchester City are at full strength for the game.
Watford – Form, Road to Wembley, Team News
Watford assured their place in the final in early April, and have only won one out of their last six games since. That sole victory, came against bottom placed Huddersfield, in what has been poor form which has seen them lose to West Ham, Chelsea and Wolves in the last three weeks.
That harrowing 4-1 defeat at home to West Ham on the final day meant they would miss out on a top half finish in the league, and condemned them to 11th. Watford were favourites, along with Wolves, to get 7th up until their semi-final which has been a huge distraction for them.
Nonetheless, it’s been a hugely successful season for Watford, who can achieve a Europa League spot if they are to win the FA Cup on Saturday.
Watford started their FA Cup run with a win over non-league at Woking in the 3rd round. Following that, they beat fellow Premier League side Newcastle 2-0 away from home, and again had to travel for their 5th round tie against QPR – winning 1-0. It wasn’t until the quarter finals that Watford were given a home tie, and it was against Crystal Palace, who knocked them out of the semi-finals back in 2016.
Watford won 2-1 courtesy of a late goal by substitute Andre Gray. In the semi-finals against Wolves, they produced one of their greatest ever comebacks to cement a place in the final. 2-0 down, and without much hope, Gerard Deulofeu scored one of the most audacious goals you are likely to see and then Troy Deeney scored from the spot in the last kick of the game.
In extra time, it was that man again Gerard Deulofeu who scored another sublime goal to win the game for Watford, and sent them to the final for only the second time in their history.
Watford received some good news this week regarding the availability of defender Jose Holebas who saw his red card decision overturned, so he will start the final. Etienne Capoue will start after making an appearance at the weekend, and have no fresh injury news ahead of the final.
Head to Head
Look away Watford fans. The sides have met 28 times in their history, with Manchester City winning on 17 occasions, compared to Watford’s six successes. Watford’s last win was back in 1989 in the 2nd tier of English football. Manchester City have beaten Watford 10 times in a row, and some of those results include 6-0, 5-0 and 4-0 drubbings, as Watford have barely laid a glove. In the two fixtures this season, Watford were more competitive, but Manchester City edged to a 2-1 win away from home, and comfortably beat Watford 2-1 at the Etihad.
In FA Cup history, the sides have been drawn together four times, with the first meeting back in 1986. Unbelievably, it took three games (two replays), to decide that tie, with Watford eventually winning 3-1 in the final game in Manchester. In three FA Cup meetings since then, Manchester City have won every time, with the two most recent meetings in 2013 and 2014. The sides haven’t met each other at any stage past the 4th round in their history.
Predictions and Betting Tips
Manchester City are at 2/9 to win the FA Cup within 90 minutes, with Watford at 12/1. For the sides to draw, that is priced at 5/1. To win the FA Cup, Manchester City are at 1/14, with Watford at 13/2. Only people with their heart will bet on a Watford win, but realistically you cannot back against Manchester City.
Their record at Wembley, their current form, and their drive to win is exceptional. I expect them to win the final here, and would tip a 3-2 result at 33/1 – yes 3-2! I anticipate Watford causing many issues, and finals between a favourite and a dark horse are rarely one sided.
To increase odds on a Manchester City win, you can back them to win both halves (6/5) or score 4+ goals at 9/4. If you like to back Watford in some capacity, you can back them to win either half at 9/2, or to be leading at half time at 17/2. You can also get incredible odds if you back Watford to go all the way, particularly if they were to win it after extra time, at a huge 60/1!
Finally, for the goal scorers, you can back arguably Manchester City’s best player this season, Bernardo Silva to score first at 13/2 or Sergio Aguero at 14/5. The most likely Watford player to score would be Troy Deeney (14/1) or Gerard Deulofeu at 12/1 to score first. You can boost odds by also backing on multiple players to score, so my final tip would suggest that both dark horses Ilkay Gundogan and David Silva will score at a generous 14/1. Let’s hope the FA Cup final doesn’t disappoint![geot country="US,CA" ]
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