Manchester City are one of the best club sides ever but from Gerard Deulofeu’s Wembley heroics to Heurelho Gomes making the most of his final bow, why Watford have reasons to believe in FA Cup final
- Manchester City are on the cusp of a domestic treble against Watford in final
- But there are reasons for the Hornets to believe ahead of the clash at Wembley
- Sportsmail has taken a look at the positives for Javi Gracia’s side ahead of game
Everything that follows comes with a massive, country-sized caveat. By any and every stretch of the imagination, Manchester City will lift the FA Cup and complete the domestic treble on Saturday evening.
They are the best team in the country, which is an excellent feat this season, and they are arguably one of the most impressive club sides of all time. Pep Guardiola has crafted an incredible side.
There’s a reason why football is such a watchable sport though, and why you should never count anyone out. The worst team of all time can beat the best, in the right circumstances.
So, whether or not City are brilliant, there’s another team on the pitch on Saturday and they are not to be counted out.
Why, exactly, should Watford fans feel confident as they alight outside Wembley and gaze upon that arch?
Sportsmail has taken a look and this is why we think Watford should have hope ahead of the game.
Gerard Deulofeu and his Wembley way
One of the more notable moments of Watford’s first visit to Wembley this season was when Gerard Deulofeu was taken off the pitch and the decision was jeered.
Do you not remember it? It came against Spurs in the Premier League and the little Spaniard had been a handful for the hosts’ defence. With Spurs pushing for an equaliser, he kept them occupied and it felt like he might crack them at some stage.
Then there was his introduction in the semi-final, which turned the game. At 2-0 down he put in a brilliant display, scoring a brilliant first and then wrapping the game up in the 104th minute to send his team to the final.
Gerard Deulofeu’s introduction in the semi-final of the FA Cup managed to turn the game
It feels as though he’s finally living up to the potential that came with him when he first moved to these shores on loan from Barcelona. There’s a reason why he was tipped for great things.
Deulofeu is only 25, although it feels as though he has been around forever.
That is the age at which most footballers reach their peak.
He has scored five in his last six games, and even bagged in the defeat against West Ham at the weekend.
The only concern now is that he will be injured after coming off as a precaution on Sunday. Deulofeu is a key man in that Watford attack for Saturday.
Deulofeu is only 25 and now seems to be peaking – could he be key in the final for Watford?
Watford’s returning stars
Speaking of stars from the FA Cup semi-final — Etienne Capoue is a pretty good option to have on Saturday.
He was absent for the loss against Chelsea in the Premier League due to injury but returned for the weekend’s game and put in a decent display, albeit in a losing effort.
And if you want a player to disrupt City’s play, Capoue is probably perfect for it. He has made more interceptions than any other player in the Premier League this season, on 86.
Etienne Capoue has more interceptions than anyone in the Premier League this season
They will rely on him to cut out City’s slick passing.
Watford will also be able to call upon Jose Holebas after his red card from the West Ham game was rescinded.
Even at 34, he is one of the most crucial players in the Hornets defence. Without him and Capoue, they would be a significantly weaker team — although it remains to be seen whether that pair put them on City’s level.
Jose Holebas’ red card from the weekend’s game against West Ham has been rescinded
Javi Gracia’s managerial nous
Watford managers under the Pozzo family used to be a bit like Defence against the Dark Arts teachers or Spinal Tap drummers.
Then Javi Gracia became the first to survive a summer since promotion last year. And barring some ridiculous confluence of circumstances, he will presumably still be occupying the manager’s office at their Colney base come August.
Which is to say he knows what he’s doing and has created a positive outlook at Watford.
Javi Gracia became the first Watford manager to survive a summer since promotion last year
They’ve managed some decent results — not least the early victory over Tottenham — and Gracia’s side are well suited to playing as the underdog.
He will also give Pep Guardiola something to think about, given his preference for two strikers and the fact City tend to struggle or are forced to adapt very slightly against that system.
Gracia has the capacity to outthink most. It’s just a shame he’s up against one of the greatest modern thinkers on football.
Gracia’s side are well suited to playing as the underdog and that will be them at Wembley
Heurelho Gomes’ farewell
Strange things happen in football and finals. Sometimes players play above themselves to force their team over the line.
Heurelho Gomes has always been a fairly decent goalkeeper. Yet he has the added incentive of knowing this will likely be his last game as a professional footballer.
Gomes is planning to retire at the end of the season. That could provide him the inspiration to dive a bit quicker and stretch a few more inches to repel anything that City hit towards his net.
And his post-retirement career plan could also play a part. ‘I’m prepared for it, I got a call up from God to be a pastor, maybe I’m going to be a pastor,’ he said of his future in March.
Hey, maybe Watford will have god on their side?
Heurelho Gomes will be playing his final game as a professional footballer at Wembley
Troy Deeney’s cojones
Listen, Troy Deeney has a habit of saying things that backfire but he’s also ridiculously good at stepping up in the biggest games.
They will not come much bigger for a man who will never have imagined getting to this final when he was playing for Halesowen Town.
Like Gomes, he might just have it in him to step up a few percent. That would be an issue for whichever City defender is tasked with handling him.
You know Deeney will handle pressure moments too. There are few players you’d prefer to see standing over a spot kick, for example.
This could also be the peak of his career. That does funny things to footballers.
Troy Deeney will be key as Watford look to occupy Manchester City’s defenders on Saturday
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