Manchester City - Wigan Preview: Martinez's underdogs targeting first major trophy win
Roberto Mancini's side are overwhelming favourites to win the FA Cup for the second time in three years when the two Premier League clubs clash at Wembley on Saturday
By Oliver Platt
Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy
Yaya Toure, Barry
Silva, Tevez, Nasri
Boyce, Caldwell, Scharner, Espinoza
McCarthy, Watson, McArthur
McManaman, Kone, Maloney
Yaya Toure has declared himself fit to start at the heart of Manchester City's midfield in Saturday's FA Cup final against Wigan.
The Ivorian missed City's midweek victory over West Brom but has been training throughout the week after being brought off at half-time against Swansea last weekend.
Scott Sinclair is unavailable after undergoing surgery on a blood clot in his shoulder but otherwise Roberto Mancini has a fully fit squad to choose from.
Wigan, on the other hand, are currently decimated by injury problems. Ivan Ramis will miss the rest of the season with a serious knee injury while fellow centre-back Antolin Alcaraz faces a race to be fit having suffered a hamstring tear last month.
Jean Beausejour (hamstring) is also a doubt and Maynor Figueroa's season has been ended by a groin problem, so Roberto Martinez is likely to continue with a flat back four.
To add to their woes, Ronnie Stam suffered a suspected broken leg less than a minute after coming off the bench in the 3-2 defeat to Swansea on Tuesday. Albert Crusat (knee) is a longer-term absentee.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Manchester City will be looking to lift the FA Cup for the sixth time on Saturday, which would draw them level with Newcastle and Blackburn on the all-time winners' list and put them within touching distance of seven-time winners Liverpool, Chelsea and Aston Villa.
- Under Roberto Mancini, City ended a trophy drought stretching back to 1976 when they won the FA Cup in 2011. They followed it up with the Premier League title a year later.
- Carlos Tevez (pictured right) is the top active goalscorer in this season's competition with five goals, trailing only Aldershot's Danny Hylton (eight) overall, but Mancini has suggested Edin Dzeko will start in attack and Sergio Aguero (pictured right) is also available.
- In reverse order, City have seen off Chelsea, Barnsley, Leeds, Stoke and Watford to reach the final. They did not concede a goal until their semi-final meeting with Rafa Benitez's team.
- Wigan have never won a top-flight competition in their 81-year history. Their last trophy was the Second Division (now League One) title in 2002-03.
- The Latics have seen off Millwall, Everton, Huddersfield, Macclesfield and Bournemouth en route to the final. They needed a replay to see off the Cherries in the third round, but have conceded only two goals in six matches.
- Jordi Gomez and Callum McManaman top the FA Cup goalscoring charts for Martinez's team, having bagged three goals each so far.
- If Wigan were to win at Wembley and finish the Premier League season in their current position of 18th, they would be the lowest-ranked side to win the FA Cup since West Ham in 1980. The Hammers were in the second tier when they beat Arsenal.
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Top 3 Predictions
Manchester City 3-0 Wigan Athletic
- 16.63 %
Manchester City 2-0 Wigan Athletic
- 13.6 %
Manchester City 3-1 Wigan Athletic
- 10.48 %
|FA Cup (FA)||9 Mar 2014||Manchester City 1 - Wigan Athletic 2|
|Capital One Cup (CCUP)||24 Sep 2013||Manchester City 5 - Wigan Athletic 0|
|FA Cup (FA)||11 May 2013||Manchester City 0 - Wigan Athletic 1|
|Premier League (EPL)||17 Apr 2013||Manchester City 1 - Wigan Athletic 0|
|Premier League (EPL)||28 Nov 2012||Wigan Athletic 0 - Manchester City 2|
|9 Mar 2014||Manchester City 1 - Wigan Athletic 2||FA|
|2 Mar 2014||Manchester City 3 - Sunderland 1||CCUP|
|22 Feb 2014||Manchester City 1 - Stoke City 0||EPL|
|18 Feb 2014||Manchester City 0 - Barcelona 2||UCL|
|15 Feb 2014||Manchester City 2 - Chelsea FC 0||FA|
|26||Ali Al Habsi||Goalkeeper|
|9||Franco Di Santo||Striker|
City, though clear favourites for this final regardless, will hope the Ivorian is fully fit after enduring a nagging injury problem over the course of the last week because there has been few more inspirational performers in this competition in recent years. Toure scored the only goal as City ended their long wait for silverware two years ago against Stoke. Roberto Mancini's team has not been on fire in front of goal lately - they have scored only five goals in their past five games - but Toure, at his best, can push them to another level. The Wigan midfield, although talented, will struggle to cope with his physicality.
The gifted 22-year-old is the standout player in the Wigan team and, with a host of top clubs rumoured to be interested in his signature, will test himself against the best at Wembley. If the Latics are to have any chance of upsetting their more illustrious opponents the Irishman will need to get his foot on the ball and give them some sense of control in central midfield. The stage is set for a career-defining display ahead of a summer Wigan are likely to spend trying to hold on to their prize asset.
With seven goals in their last three games, Wigan have certainly proved their attacking capability as the season reaches its climax but their glaring defensive issues are too troublesome to ignore. The Latics were shambolic against Swansea in midweek and although they will almost certainly improve on that display, the higher calibre of opposition is likely to make it another difficult afternoon. It has been a disappointing season for City, but Roberto Mancini has been able to rotate his team to prepare for this match and ensure the Etihad Stadium trophy cabinet is not left empty.
Times In GMT
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed