With Saturday May 18th being inked in the football calendar a long time ago, all that was needed were two teams to take up the invite to play in this season’s F.A. Cup final and thankfully we now have them, as both Manchester City and Watford have booked themselves another trip to Wembley.
The final will see two Spanish master tacticians square off in the technical area and although Pep Guardiola will undoubtedly attract the majority of the attention, Javi Gracia will not be shy of the limelight either and especially after masterminding such an incredible Semi-final win.
Manchester City’s win over Brighton in the first of the Semi-finals was the more routine of the victories and one that keeps their hopes of completing an unprecedented quadruple of trophy wins, very much alive.
However, there was all manner of drama in the other, with Watford coming from two-nil down to then beat Wolves by three goals to two in extra time and although there were jubilant scenes for the Hornets, they will hope that the Wembley celebrating does not stop there.
Going into the final, the pundits will undoubtedly view Watford as the underdogs and this a view that is shared by the bookmakers also. A look at the current F.A. Cup betting has bet365 pricing Manchester City as short as 1/3 on to win, with Watford as outsiders at odds of 8/1.
Something suggests that Watford will have their work cut out and although a cup winning fairy tale is a rare occurrence these days, that’s not to say that David getting the better of Goliath is impossible either.
Watford will only need to take inspiration from the 2013 F.A. Cup Final and one that also involved fellow finalists Manchester City. However, it was not that Etihad outfit who were playing the role of plucky minnows that afternoon.
Instead, it was largely un-fancied Wigan Athletic who did the unthinkable. Ben Watson’s late header clinched victory and subsequently, the Latics picked up their first and only F.A. Cup final victory to date.
Results like this, just go to show that anything can happen in a one-off footballing encounter and if Watford are at their absolute best in a just a few weeks, it might as easily be they who are writing another chapter in the storied history of this illustrious competition.
Of course, Manchester City will be gunning to make history of their own and after suffering such an embarrassing Wembley defeat six years ago, they will be no mood to be made fools of once again.
However, try telling that to Watford captain Troy Deeney. It’s fair to say he won’t care a jot and he’ll love nothing more, than to be the man who stops City from doing something truly special.
The 30-year-old is undoubtedly the heartbeat of Watford and he is already dreaming of lifting this prestigious trophy. Many will tell the bustling forward he doesn’t have a chance, but in an F.A. Cup final, you always have a chance.