Manchester City won this competition back in 2011 and there
are more than a few who would believe that it’s their only realistic chance of
a trophy this season. After knockout from the Champions League and League Cup
competitions, and hesitant start to their defence of the Premier League,
Roberto Mancini’s men are up against it if they wish to capture some silverware
come the end of the season. Their form over Christmas and New Year highlighted
how frustrating it must be to follow the club as it was a mixture of incredible
quality, frustration and indiscipline. Currently seven points off leaders
Manchester United, City must put together a run of victories if they wish to
close the gap and retain their title. Saturday’s match at home to Watford will
give them a break from league business and allows Mancini to rotate the massive
squad he has at his disposal.
Mancini will be up against one of his former international
team-mates as Watford – managed by Gianfranco Zola – visit the Etihad. Despite
a change of manager and a near complete overhaul of the playing squad in the
summer, Watford have managed to find this stride quickly in this season’s
Championship and occupy sixth placed. Zola has got them playing some excellent
stuff which has complimented the type of player he has available to them (majority
on loan from Granada and Udinese). They have one of the best away records in
the Championship with six wins from 12 games thus far and it’s down to their
pace and incision on the counter attack which has hurt so many sides. Leeds,
Brighton and Crystal Palace have all been on the receiving end in the opening
half of the campaign.
City will lose three of their Ivorian contingent to the
African Cup of Nations after this match so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see
that trio included in the starting XI but expect to see several fringe players
come in. Sergio Augero is definitely out with an injury so it may be Mario
Balotelli that gets the call to replace him despite being involved in another
training ground bust up, this time with Mancini. It’s unlikely to deter the
Italian from picking him, going by the quotes in the media today, and with the
character of the striker, don’t be surprised to see him find the back of the
net on Saturday.
Watford have scored more goals away from home than any side
in top four divisions of English football – only Rochdale have matched them.
They have failed to score in just one of their away games this season and have
managed two or more goals on seven of those occasions. Matej Vydra has
contributed in a big way as the Czech striker has 12 goals to his name making
him the club’s top scorer.
I don’t doubt that City should win this and win convincingly
at that but I think Watford will get chances as so many sides do against the reigning
champions of England. Watford are taking 6000 supporters to Manchester and with
Zola, a man synonymous with the FA Cup as a player, in charge, I can’t see them
freezing. They may not have enough to win the match but I can see them scoring
which makes both teams to score appealing.
Both teams to score 6/5 @ Bet365