Manchester City went into the FA cup final against Watford as big favourites having just won the Premier League with a total of 97 points the week beforehand. Watford had finished just below mid-table at 11th and were just coming back off the back of humiliating 4-1 loss at home to West Ham United. It was written in the stars for Manchester City to complete the first domestic treble in history and suppress the memories of the Champions league defeat to Tottenham. Watford fans were relying on the magic of the FA cup to pull them through and that their players could find something extra for the special day. Unfortunately for the hornets, there was no magic in Wembley this afternoon. As the game kicked off, City dominated possession of the ball. Passing and moving the ball amongst one another, waiting for a mistake or an opportunity to exploit in the Watford defence. In the first 20 minutes of the game, Watford defended well and although they weren’t particularly threatening the City goal neither was they leaving themselves vulnerable to be opened up. But as Manchester City have shown over the last couple of seasons, as a team switches off, they punish them. A piece of lackadaisical defending by Watford, gave David Silva the opportunity to breakthrough into the penalty area unchallenged. The 33-year-old Spaniard showed no signs of aging, as he terrifically fired the ball across the helpless Gomes in the Watford goal. Game, set, match. Everyone watching knew this was the beginning of the end, but little did they know to what extent. How Manchester City can compete and perform in multiple competitions over the duration of the season is due to the strength in depth that they have in their side. Aguero didn’t start in the FA cup final and was replaced by Brazil’s first-choice striker, Gabriel Jesus. The young Brazilian latched onto a Bernado Silva cross to direct the ball goal wards before Raheem Sterling selfishly smashed the ball in on the goal line. Watford’s worst nightmare. 2-0 down against one of the greatest teams in English football and yet there was still 62 minutes to be played. City went into half time with a 2-0 lead and Watford would now need a miracle to get a goal, let alone give themselves any chance of winning the game.
For the first 20 minutes of the second half, Watford were clutching at straws. A Jesus chance was brilliantly saved by Gomes and Laporte came close to a goal with a header. But as I just mentioned, City have incredible strength in depth, and this was in full display on the 55th minute when they introduced Kevin De Bruyne for Riyad Mahrez. The Belgian is arguably the best midfielder in the Premier League, yet was Pep was confident enough in his players to leave him on the bench. It did not take the 27-year-old long to make an impact. On the 60th minute, Manchester City broke out from a Watford attack. It was that man again, Gabriel Jesus, who squared the ball to De Bruyne who sat Gomes down before essentially walking the ball into the back of the net. Three was soon to be four on the 68th minute and Jesus was about to get his reward for the role that he played all afternoon. Watford attempted to press the City defence until one long punt up the pitch from Laporte found the chest of Jesus, who neatly knocked the ball down to De Bruyne. The Belgian midfielder played the ball into the former Palmeiras man who ran with the ball before neatly finishing under the stranded Gomes. A long day for his fellow countryman and a well-deserved goal for himself. City smelt blood and Watford were weakening by the second. I bet now if you would if offered the option of a 4-0 loss to Javi Garcia he would have taken your hand off. As expected, City would further increase there lead on the 81st minute through Raheem Sterling. It was a classic Sterling goal as well. A back-post tap in following a low driven cross from Bernardo Silva and the 24-year-old was there to do what he has been doing all season and put the ball into the back of the net. The man from Wembley, would put the cherry on top of his homecoming by going onto get City’s sixth and complete his hat-trick. A ball from De Bruyne on the righthand side found the on rushing Sterling who struck the ball towards Gomes. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the Brazilians afternoon, as the shot ricocheted off the post and back into path of Sterling who tapped the ball home. A classic Manchester City performance and the biggest victory in an FA cup final since 1902. An incredible achievement, for an incredible team.
City have been dominant throughout the season and completing the domestic treble was a testament to how good they’ve been this year. Many people argue that Manchester City have had the opportunity to recruit the best players due to their financial power, therefore are going to win many of their games. This most certainly is a very valid and good point. Would Pep be as successful with a smaller budget? Most probably not; but just because he has this financial power at his disposal doesn’t necessarily mean that he will. The ex-Barcelona man has got City playing incredible and has completely changed the club’s philosophy. It will be hard to see anyone surpass City over the next few years and you will have to imagine that they will continue to dominate English football. One thing is for certain next season and that is Guardiola will not settle and City will be just as hungry.