The FA Cup final
It’s been a gruelling and tantalising FA Cup campaign to date, with drama aplenty and a handful of classic encounters en route to the final. Manchester City and Watford are the last two teams standing, with the duo set to collide at Wembley on Saturday in a mouth-watering prospect.
City have swatted teams aside routinely—domestically at least—this term, but the Hornets—impressive under Javi Gracia—represent a significant banana skin.
Manchester City’s route to the final
Newport County barely represented trickier opponents in the Fifth Round, with Phil Foden netting twice as City dispatched their Welsh opponents.
Another Welsh foe—Swansea City—were their opponents in the quarter-final, although the Swans put up an admirable fight in a 3-2 defeat.
Brighton & Hove Albion—City’s final-day opponents—were next up in the semi-final, and while the 1-0 scoreline suggests a close contest, the match was a breeze for Pep Guardiola’s side, who hardly needed to move out of first gear.
- Catherine Ivill
Watford’s route to the final
The Hornets haven’t had things quite as comfortably as they’ve reached the final, although they didn’t concede a single goal as Woking, Newcastle United and Queens Park Rangers were seen off 2-0, 2-0 and 1-0 in the first three rounds.
They met Crystal Palace in the quarter-finals, with Etienne Capoue and Andre Gray scoring in a 2-1 victory at Vicarage Road, before fancied Wolverhampton Wanderers were defeated 3-2 after extra time at Wembley in a tantalising semi-final.
The Hertfordshire-based side demonstrated their mettle to come back from 2-0 to secure a 3-2 triumph, with Gerard Deulofeu—who netted twice—and Troy Deeney the heroes.
- Getty Images
A domestic treble?
While City were dumped out of the Champions League at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur—denying Guardiola the chance to get his hands on continental silverware—they remain on course for an unprecedented domestic treble.
They required a penalty shootout to defeat Chelsea in the EFL Cup final, a match overshadowed by Maurizio Sarri’s tiff with Kepa Arrizabalaga, while Liverpool represented relentless opponents in the Premier League race.
Can Guardiola and his troops complete the domestic set against Watford this weekend?
A subplot to the encounter was a red card received—somewhat harshly—by key Watford defender Jose Holebas, who was deemed to have been the last man when he made minor contact with Michail Antonio.
The Greece international was inconsolable as he left the pitch, knowing that his FA Cup dream was in tatters.
However, the FA announced on Monday that they had rescinded the red card shown to the full-back, who’ll now be able to take his place in Gracia’s starting XI for the meeting with City.
Considering the experienced 34-year-old has contributed six assists and scored three goals for Watford this term—not bad for a left-back—he could be a key man come Saturday.