By Neil Leverett and Isaac Farnworth
- Manchester City look to complete a season treble this weekend, as they face Watford in the Emirates FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium
- Citizens can complete league and cup double against side who finished 11th in Premier League standings
- Hornets looking to sting champions and win their first trophy in 13 years, in just their second FA Cup final
WEMBLEY STADIUM, LONDON – As the curtain drops on the 2018/19 domestic campaign this weekend, Manchester City will seek to complete the treble this Saturday in the Emirates FA Cup final versus Watford
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Champions seek season triple
Having wrapped up the second successive league title against Brighton & Hove Albion last weekend – pipping Liverpool to the Premier League crown by a single point – Pep Guardiola‘s men have the chance this Saturday to round off the season in style by capturing the domestic treble against Watford in the Emirates FA Cup final at Wembley.
Despite an early scare at the AMEX Stadium against the Seagulls, the Citizens cantered to the win they needed on the south coast and will be confident as they roll into north London this weekend, with a cup win under the famous arch already under their belt this term, having beaten Chelsea on penalties back in February.
Before them stand Watford, who whilst having finished in the bottom half of the top flight after their final day loss to West Ham, themselves return to Wembley on the back of their semi-final heroics against Wolves, coming from 2-0 down to win 3-2 in extra time last month.
The Hornets will unquestionably by the underdogs by some margin, but Javi Gracia‘s men will look to the example of Wigan Athletic who in 2013 stunned City via Ben Watson – a former Watford player – who scored in the 89th minute for the Latics to be remarkably crowned FA Cup winners six years ago.
Hornets look to history
Watford meanwhile will be looking to create history in just their second FA Cup final, having fallen to Everton in 1984, courtesy of a Toffees double from Scottish duo Andy Gray and Graeme Sharp. After what has been a steady season for the Hertfordshire side, any sense of mid-table mediocrity would fade to yellow and black with victory over the best side in the land.
The task for Gracia’s side is steep indeed, but they will be comforted by the fact that when Wigan did beat them they too were the extreme outsiders against Roberto Mancini‘s charges, but after a strong run to the final including away wins at Everton and Bournemouth – with quarter and semi-final wins to nil away to Millwall and the Toffees – the belief was there that the unthinkable could happen.
That occurrence again this Saturday is not an impossibility either and given Watford’s consistent showings this season in world football’s premier domestic league trophy, the Hornets have the tools in both their defensive and attacking lockers to cause City problems – if not achieve a sizeable upset.
City driven to further success
In sport, there are often sub-plots lurking beneath the headlines and the case is no different this weekend. For City, Saturday’s Wembley encounter with Watford is about vying for the chance to win all three domestic competitions, not foregoing the community shield they secured in August – an achievement which manager Guardiola and his players are well-aware and keen to secure.
As is Phil Foden, who less than seven years ago was a ball boy at the Etihad, will tomorrow be looking to add to his already impressive trophy haul. He has two Premier League titles, two Carabao Cup wins and a Community Shield as well as an Under-17 World Cup success to his name.
Foden may only be used as a substitute this weekend, but his is only one of a number of narratives. The other main one being this being the very first all-Spanish battle in the dugout, for the final of football’s oldest and arguably greatest prize.
Isaac: Despite all the excitement in the lead up to cup finals and play-offs at this crescendoing end to the football season, I’m fearing an anti-climactic end to this one, with a comfortable City win.
Manchester City 2-0 Watford
Neil: Whilst I am also predicting a win for the Citizens, I don’t see it being such a one-sided affair. Gerard Deulofeu will cause City problems at the back with their defensive issues and I expect them to score, before easing home to a second half win.
Manchester City 3-1 Watford
The Emirates FA Cup final takes place on Saturday between Manchester City and Watford, kick-off 5pm UK time
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