May 18, 2019 at 5pm UK
Man CityManchester City
Silva (26'), Jesus (38', 68'), De Bruyne (61'), Sterling (81', 87')
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Preview: Manchester City vs. Watford - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Manchester City vs. Watford - prediction, team news, lineups: ID:359455: from db_amp
Sports Mole previews the 138th FA Cup final, including team news and predicted lineups, as Manchester City go in search of a treble against Watford.

The 138th FA Cup final takes place on Saturday evening as treble-chasing Manchester City face underdogs Watford at Wembley Stadium.

City have already won the EFL Cup at the national stadium this season, followed up by lifting the Premier League, and now only the Hornets stand between them and a place in history.

Man City

Since the introduction of the EFL Cup in 1960, no English side has ever managed to win a clean sweep of major honours on offer in a single season. After beating Chelsea in February's EFL Cup final and finishing a point above Liverpool in a thrilling title race, City are on the verge of crossing off another incredible achievement.

The debate as to whether City are the greatest Premier League side ever will continue to rumble on. A total of 198 points across the last two seasons - including a record-breaking centurion campaign last time out - certainly stands them in good stead.

For all the hype surrounding the Citizens last season, it was arguably their ability to overtake and then hold off Liverpool this season that is deserving of more praise. With the pressure on heading into every single match, Pep Guardiola's men ended the campaign with 14 successive league wins.

There was the disappointment of exiting the Champions League to Tottenham Hotspur, of course, denying them the chance of winning a quadruple, but three trophies out of four - four out of five including the Community Shield, as Guardiola insists - would not be a bad third campaign in English football for the Catalan coach.

City, knocked out of the FA Cup by Wigan Athletic in the fifth round last season, have so far overcome three lower-league sides and two Premier League opponents to make it this far.

After crushing Rotherham United 7-0 and Burnley 5-0 in rounds three and four respectively, the Citizens were made to work a little harder to see off Newport County, albeit with a final scoreline of 4-1, and they then required a huge slice of luck to beat Swansea City 3-2.

The Citizens trailed 2-0 at the Liberty Stadium with a little over 20 minutes to go but, thanks to some strange refereeing that day in March, they prevailed thanks to goals from Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero, either side of Kristoffer Nordfeldt's own goal.

City then beat Brighton & Hove Albion in the semi-finals to reach the final for the 11th time, but this is their first since 2013 when losing 1-0 to Wigan. They have won the competition five times, but just once - in 2011 - during the Abu Dhabi era.

The vast majority of City's squad have still yet to lift this famous cup. Saturday's match provides Aguero & Co. with an opportunity to put that right and create some English football history in the process.

Recent form in FA Cup: WWWWW
Recent form (all competitions): WWWWWW


In a year of incredible comebacks, Watford's miraculous recovery in the last round to beat Wolverhampton Wanderers has almost become forgotten.

Watford were one down after 36 minutes and two behind with 62 minutes gone through goals from Matt Doherty and Raul Jimenez. Enter stage right Gerard Deulofeu, who came on with 25 minutes left and exited the pitch in extra time having struck twice.

Those goals came either side of Troy Deeney's penalty in the final seconds of normal time, providing Watford's supporters with one of the most memorable afternoons in their history as they came out on top 3-2 in a battle between two of the Premier League's overachievers.

Wolves gained a little revenge by holding off the Hornets to finish seventh in the top flight. However, there could be another sting in the tail as victory for Watford on Saturday will see them claim the final Europa League spot up for grabs at the expense of Wanderers.

There is more than just a cup on the line for Javi Gracia's side this weekend, then, with the return of European football at Vicarage Road also up for grabs.

Wolves were the third top-flight side Watford have defeated in their run to the final, having also beat Newcastle United 2-0 at St James' Park and Crystal Palace 2-1 on home soil. There was also a 2-0 win at Woking in round three and a slender 1-0 victory away to Queens Park Rangers.

Gracia heavily rotated his side in the early rounds, leading to criticism from the outside, though his decision to rest players has ultimately paid off as his men are into their first FA Cup final in 35 years and finished 11th in the Premier League.

That bottom-half finish can be considered a little disappointing, though, as the Hertfordshire outfit lost three league games in a row and went four without a win to slip down the table as their campaign fizzled out, not that their supporters will care one bit if they can beat the best side in the country and lift the cup for the first time in their history.

Watford's only previous FA Cup final appearance came in 1984 under manager Graham Taylor when losing 2-0 to Everton at the old Wembley. Now, after more than three decades of waiting, they have a chance to put that right on Saturday.

Recent form in FA Cup: WWWWW
Recent form (all competitions): LWDLLL

Team News

Back-up goalkeeper Claudio Bravo is Man City's only confirmed absentee, with Fernandinho and Benjamin Mendy expected to recover from knee injuries.

Mendy has been a bit-part figure for the champions in another frustrating campaign, though, and is unlikely to usurp Oleksandr Zinchenko for a starting berth at left-back.

There also has to be a question mark over Fernandinho's involvement as he has not been used since injuring his knee on April 24 and Ilkay Gundogan has performed well in the holding role during the Brazilian's absence.

The versatile Bernardo can be used either in central midfield or in the frontline. That may depend on whether Kevin De Bruyne is ready to start following his return from the bench against Brighton last weekend.

At the back John Stones, Vincent Kompany, Aymeric Laporte and Nicolas Otamendi are battling it out for a starting spot.

As for the Hornets, they will have Jose Holebas available for selection at left-back after his red card for denying Michail Antonio a goalscoring opportunity on the final day of the season was rescinded.

Domingos Quina and Sebastian Prodl are therefore the only confirmed absentees for Gracia to contend with.

Etienne Capoue, who was voted Watford's Player of the Season returned from a groin injury against West Ham United and will therefore start alongside Abdoulaye Doucoure in the engine room.

The big decision for Gracia to make is whether to use Deulofeu from the off or instead use him as an impact sub, as was the case in the semi-finals when turning the game on its head.

Man City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Walker, Kompany, Laporte, Zinchenko; D.Silva, Gundogan, De Bruyne; Bernardo, Aguero, Sterling

Watford possible starting lineup:
Gomes; Femenia, Kabasele, Cathcart, Holebas; Pereyra, Doucoure, Capoue, Hughes; Deulofeu, Deeney

Head To Head

Man City have eliminated Watford from the FA Cup in each of their previous three ties, winning 3-1 in 1996-97, 3-0 in 2012-13 and 4-2 in 2013-14. The Hornets' only elimination of City in the competition was in the 1985-86 season in the fourth round.

Gracia's men have lost their last 10 matches against the Citizens in all competitions, conceding 32 goals in those games. They are winless in 15 matches against the Citizens overall since a 1-0 win in March 1989 in the second tier.

City won 3-1 in the most recent encounter between the sides at the Etihad Stadium in March, with Raheem Sterling helping himself to a hat-trick, three months on from winning the reverse league fixture 2-1 in Hertfordshire.

We say: Man City 2-0 Watford

Man City are looking to become just the fourth team to win both major domestic cup competitions in the same season, after Arsenal in 1992-93, Liverpool in 2000-01 and Chelsea in 2006-07, and the first ever to win both alongside the league title.

No team to finish in the bottom half of the top-flight table has ever beaten the side to finish top in an FA Cup final, and that sequence is unlikely to be broken this weekend as the Citizens look unbeatable on current form.

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