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Lost and won: Manchester City vs Watford

Watford face Manchester City this weekend as they attempt to win the FA Cup for the first time in their history.

They face a tough task. City, of course, have already been crowned Premier League champions and are out to complete an unprecedented domestic treble after winning the Carabao Cup in February.

Can the Hornets pull off a major upset at Wembley, then, and stop Pep Guardiola’s side making history?

To do so, they would have to beat City for the first time since 1989, recording their first victory in 15 meetings.

Football FanCast takes a look at where the game could be won and lost…

Key battle – Troy Deeney v Aymeric Laporte

Troy Deeney celebrates FA cup SF win

Deeney is a physical striker who loves nothing more than roughing up his marker.

Laporte, an excellent ball carrier who is also superb in the tackle, may not like the prospect of taking on such a ferocious forward.

Deeney scored a total of 11 goals across the season and is at his best when he is tasked with pressing a backline and attempting to win the ball back high up the pitch.

With City’s penchant for building from the back, the 30-year-old will be tasked with setting the tempo for Watford.

His influence on the game cannot be understated.

Key dynamic – Watford’s inexperience

Watford last reached a cup final in 1984; they lost, 2-0 to Everton. City are well-versed in the language of finals and will be out to prove a point as they bid to become the first team in English football to win a domestic treble.

It remains to be seen how this Watford team will cope.

Despite the clear gulf between the two teams – City finished 48 points ahead of Javi Gracia’s men – cup finals can be a leveller. City know that all too well, having lost to Wigan Athletic in 2013.

If Watford can follow the example of the Latics, keep it tight, and not lose their heads in the cauldron of the showpiece, they could well upset the champions.

Or perhaps, as is more likely, City will simply overrun the Hornets; they have played them twice this season, winning 2-1 at Vicarage Road and 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium.

Deciding Factor – Hunger for titles

Will complacency creep in for City?

Pep Guardiola’s men were peerless in the Premier League. Even the best Liverpool team of recent years, who lost just once all season, could not overhaul the Blues at the top of the table.

A clash with Watford, usually, should be something of an open goal.

But there is an awful lot riding on this for the club – they could make history with a victory.

It remains to be seen, however, if that transmits to the players, who have regularly thumped the Hornets in recent years. In their last five meetings, City have won all five, scoring 19 goals and conceding just three.

Taking this for granted, though, would be a grave mistake; this Watford side could become the first ever to win an FA Cup. They will not be taking it lightly.

Impact subs – Riyad Mahrez v Andre Gray

Guardiola raised plenty of eyebrows when he picked Mahrez to play against Brighton & Hove Albion in the club’s final game of the Premier League season.

Naturally, the Algeria international scored the goal of the game and played a key role in his side’s 4-1 victory that confirmed them as champions.

It remains to be seen, however, if he will be picked over Leroy Sane at Wembley, as he was named in the starting XI just 14 times in the Premier League this season. If he isn’t, he could be a game-changer from the bench, with his fleet-footed dribbling ability likely to unsettle Watford’s defence deep into the game.

Gray, meanwhile, is effectively Deeney’s understudy but he has been quietly effective this season, scoring nine goals in all-competitions.

Two of those have come in the FA Cup, while he also laid on an assist in the dramatic 3-2 victory over Wolves in the semi-final.

A pacey player with a diminutive stature and a low centre of gravity, he is a completely different threat to Deeney and is perhaps their best option off the bench if the game is slipping away in the second half.

Are Watford the most likely club to break the top 6 next season? The fans in the video below certainly agree the ‘W’ part of that statement is correct…

Article title: Lost and won: Manchester City vs Watford

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