Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City travel to Wembley in the FA Cup final on Saturday to face Watford in their quest to achieve an unprecedented domestic treble.
Having won the Carabao Cup in February and the Premier League last week, City now aim to complete the trio in order to become the first team in English top-flight history to attain the feat.
The FA Cup is Europe’s oldest and most prestigious cup competition, and City finally have the chance to get their hands on the coveted trophy for the first time since 2011. The Blues, then under Roberto Mancini, famously beat Stoke City 1-0 in the final to end a torrid trophy-less run of 35 years.
Nine years later, however, Manchester City are now managed by the continent’s most decorated manager and possess a squad other teams can only dream of.
The Premier League champions started their season off with a 2-0 victory over last season’s FA Cup winners Chelsea in the Community Shield at Wembley in August, and hope to end their season in similar style as they head to London again for the final.
In a remarkable record, Manchester City will visit the Wembley Stadium for the seventh time since last February, which includes two Carabao Cup finals, two away games against Tottenham Hotspur, one Community Shield match, an FA Cup semi-final and now the much-anticipated final against the Hornets.
Pep Guardiola has spoken ahead of his team’s final game of the season, also pinpointing the threat Saturday’s opponents possess:
“They have quality in front with Roberto Pereyra, Troy Deeney and Gerard Deulofeu; with Abdoulaye Doucoure and Etienne Capoue – especially Doucoure – and the way they turn up late into the 18-yard-box. They handle the defensive side well and with the set-pieces they have, they have Jose Holebas, who is an incredible set-piece taker”, Pep said.
Javi Gracia, on the other hand, will lead Watford to their first FA Cup final since 1984 and is looking forward to the red-letter day.
“It will be a difficult game for us as Manchester City have some great players and are a great team, everybody knows this. But in football you always have a chance”, the Spaniard said.
“It will be something different, something special. But I want to feel it, I want to live it. We deserve this moment. We have played during all this season to have this chance. To be there with Watford, with my players, it will be difficult to explain”, he added.
Manchester City will be without Benjamin Mendy for the final, whilst Fernandinho could be involved after overcoming a knee injury which kept him out of the last few games of the season. Kevin de Bruyne will hope to start after he was introduced as a late substitute in the title-clinching match against Brighton last Sunday.
Gerard Deulofeu will hope to recreate his semi-final heroics as the Spaniard is declared fit for the final following a dead leg which forced him to get substituted on Saturday. Veteran left-back Jose Holebas is also available after his red card appeal was upheld by the FA and Tom Cleverley is in contention despite his limited game time. Sebastian Prodl and Domingos Quina remain sidelined with knee and shoulder injuries respectively.