Manchester City - Watford Preview: Premier League champions host Zola's Hornets in FA Cup third round
The build-up to this tie has been dominated by a training ground bust-up between Roberto Mancini and Mario Balotelli, but the hosts must be wary of a dangerous Championship side
By Husmukh Kerai
Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy
Sinclair, Tevez, Milner
Hoban, Ekstrand, Neuton, Cassetti
Chalobah, Hogg, Abdi, Pudil
Roberto Mancini is likely to leave out Mario Balotelli after the two faced off in a training ground bust-up earlier this week, while Sergio Aguero (hamstring) is definitely out after sustaining an injury against Stoke City.
Samir Nasri will miss the game because of a domestic three-match suspension following his red card against Norwich.
Brothers Yaya and Kolo Toure will not take part in the tie after joining up with the Ivory Coast national team this week for the African Cup of Nations.
Alexander Kolarov (groin), Maicon (knee), Micah Richards (knee) and Jack Rodwell (hamstring) all remain sidelined.
Watford manager Gianfranco Zola has only two major doubts for the trip to the Etihad; Connor Smith (knee) and Fitz Hall (hamstring) both look set to miss out.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Manchester City have won the FA Cup on five occasions, once under current manager Roberto Mancini in 2011.
- City have played a total of 141 home matches in the FA Cup, winning 82, drawing 32 and losing 30.
The hosts have won 13 and lost just two of their last 19 FA Cup clashes with sides from the second tier of English football.
- In two previous FA meetings; Watford progressed after two replays in 1986 while City won a fourth round game 4-1 in 1997.
- Both Premier League matches between Watford and Manchester City in the 2006-07 season ended in draws.
- Watford lost the 1984 FA Cup final 2-0 to Everton, the closest they have ever come to winning the famous trophy.
- Watford were eliminated by Premier League opponents last season in a narrow 1-0 defeat to Tottenham in the fourth round at Vicarage Road.
Matej Vydra (pictured) has scored four goals in his last two starts for Watford in all competitions.
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Top 3 Predictions
Manchester City FC 3-0 Watford
- 11.83 %
Manchester City FC 4-0 Watford
- 7.76 %
Manchester City FC 0-8 Watford
- 7.56 %
|England - FA Cup (FA)||Jan 5, 2013||Manchester City FC 3 - Watford 0|
|Manchester City FC|
|Dec 7, 2013||Southampton 1 - Manchester City FC 1||EPL|
|Dec 4, 2013||West Bromwich Albion 2 - Manchester City FC 3||EPL|
|Dec 1, 2013||Manchester City FC 3 - Swansea 0||EPL|
|Nov 27, 2013||Manchester City FC 4 - FC Viktoria Plzeň 2||UCL|
|Nov 24, 2013||Manchester City FC 6 - Tottenham 0||EPL|
The former Swansea winger has barely figured since making a summer switch to the Etihad. Saturday's third round tie should be a rare chance for the 23-year-old to showcase his talents in a City shirt and hopefully make an impression on Roberto Mancini. With Aguero and Balotelli unlikely to feature, Edin Dzeko will hope to feed off the Englishman's service from wide areas.
The Czech striker, on-loan from Udinese, has bagged 12 goals and five assists this season, quickly becoming an indispensable figure at Vicarage Road. The 20-year-old has flourished under Zola after being moved into a central striking role from his preferred position on the right flank. His partnership with Troy Deeney has provided the goals for Watford this season and the duo will fancy themselves against an unconvincing City defence.
Even with the host of stars unavailable for Roberto Mancini, his side should still have plenty of quality in reserve to see off Watford. The FA Cup is City's best chance of silverware this season, as they trail rivals United in the league, so Mancini won't be taking Zola's Watford side lightly. The Hornets have had a stop-start season so far and any result they manage to pull of at the Etihad will come as an almighty shock.
Times In GMT
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed