|Manchester City to win both halves||7/5||William Hill|
|Bernardo Silva to score anytime||11/5||Coral|
They may not have sealed the deal until the final day of the campaign, but Manchester City romped to the Premier League title with a magnificent 14-game winning run. Such a sequence made him a mockery of so-called ‘squeaky bum time’, and Pep Guardiola’s side now have a piece of history in their sight: beat Watford at Wembley on Saturday and they will become the first English team to scoop a domestic treble.
City were pushed all the way in the Premier League by Liverpool, who will have taken no pleasure in being lauded as the greatest runners-up the division has ever seen. In both the EFL Cup and the FA Cup, however, Guardiola’s men have largely avoided major tests.
Their opponents en route to glory in the former competition were Oxford United, Fulham, Leicester City and Burton Albion, while they could easily have been beaten by Chelsea in the final before they ultimately triumphed in a penalty shoot-out. In the more senior knockout tournament, meanwhile, they overcame Rotherham United, Burnley, Newport County, Swansea City and Brighton and Hove Albion to book a spot in Saturday’s showpiece.
You can only beat what is in front of you, as the old saying goes, and City did so convincingly in the early rounds of the FA Cup, with Rotherham, Burnley and Newport swatted aside by an aggregate scoreline of 16-1. However, Swansea stormed into a two-goal lead before eventually succumbing 3-2, and Brighton were only beaten by a single goal in the last four. Those two results will give Watford hope ahead of this weekend’s encounter, which is their first appearance in the FA Cup final since Graham Taylor’s team were defeated 2-0 by Everton in 1984.
Is There a Potential FA Cup Final Upset on the Card?
The Hornets have enjoyed an excellent campaign, defying pre-season predictions that they could be set for relegation trouble to spend most of the year challenging for seventh place. In the end they fell somewhat short of that ‘best of the rest’ position, sinking into the bottom half of the table after losing 4-1 to West Ham United on the final weekend and ultimately ending 2018/19 seven points adrift of Wolverhampton Wanderers in that final European spot.
Wolves will only qualify for the Europa League if Manchester City triumph this weekend, but Watford will believe they can cause an upset in north London. They are a physical, well-drilled side who can be tough to play against on their day, although the fact that they lost 11 of their 12 Premier League meetings with big-six sides does not bode particularly well. In tactical terms, their narrow setup is perhaps not ideal to take on a team like City, where the space in behind the full-backs is probably the only area that opponents are able to occasionally exploit.
Watford will instead look to hit long balls in the direction of Troy Deeney whenever they wrestle possession away from City, but it remains to be seen whether they will be able to get enough bodies around the burly centre-forward in support.
City Expected to Dominate Proceedings
Guardiola’s charges will play their usual game, dominating possession, pushing high up the pitch and patiently probing in search of openings. Having so frequently opened the scoring inside the opening quarter of an hour this season, City did not find the net earlier than the 28th minute in their final four league games, with six of their eight goals in that time coming in the second half. That was largely to do with the immense pressure of the title race, however, and although there is also silverware on the line at Wembley, we can expect to play with greater freedom.
That, in turn, is likely to produce a fast start, and it would frankly be a surprise if Watford were able to go in at the break with the scores still level. For that reason, put some money on City to win both halves on Saturday at 7/5 with William Hill.
A second selection worth making concerns Bernardo Silva, who – despite notable contributions from Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero – has been City’s standout performer this term. The Portugal international has scored important goals in big matches against Arsenal, Swansea, Tottenham and Manchester United, and he could do the same again here, with Coral offering 11/5 for him to do just that.