Friday, 4 January 2013

Match Preview: Manchester City vs Watford

Our FA Cup journey starts with a tricky tie...

By Archie Barnett

The FA Cup campaign starts for Manchester City against an opposition that are being classed as somewhat underdogs in this encounter, but they should not be underestimated. The Citizens come into this clash on the back of a 3-0 victory over Stoke City, whereas Watford were unable to repeat the same scoreline, after losing 4-3 against Charlton Athletic.

Don't let this dampen the Hornet's spirit though, and as they lie in sixth in the Championship, their 6,000 fans are making the journey up North with realistic hopes of giving the English Champions a tough game at the Etihad. 

However, due to Champions League and Capital One Cup exits, City boss Roberto Mancini knows that his team have to put in a much better performance in the FA Cup and ease the pressure on his shoulders. The FA Cup was of course the first trophy that the Blues won in 35 years, closely followed by the Premier League trophy, so another cup run is not out of the question.

With kind draws, I feel 2013 could be the year in which City lift the prestigious trophy once again - providing we don't slip up against lower opposition!

We have decided to change our match previews slightly, and todays preview will see us to a Watford fan that runs WFCforums- Alex Prentice - who shares his views with us ahead of the trip to Manchester.
What do you think of the threat of Manchester City and who do you think will be the key players?

Alex: Obviously you're the champions of England, so as far as threats go you're probably the largest we could face (I won't mention the better form of your rivals). I have to admit, I wanted to get L*ton in the cup but a trip away to a big Premiership club is a lot better than other potential ties we could have got. Realistically we can't really go into tomorrow's game and want to come away with anything, but it is the cup so you never know.

It's difficult to guess who will be playing for you, whether Mancini will go for it with it being one of the last trophies you're in the running for, or whether he'll underestimate us/not care enough and put a fringe side out. If players like Milner, Tevez and Kompany play then they'll be a huge difference for you guys.

The Etihad Stadium is certainly a tough place to go to, but by no means impossible to get a result. How do you feel going into the game? Do you think Watford can get a result?

Alex: I touched on it briefly, but I don't really expect to get anything out of the game, I just want us to come up to Manchester and have a good day out, and not publicly humiliate ourselves like we did away to Chelsea a couple of years ago. We play much better football now so as a result we could at least give you a couple of scare moments, and give a good account of ourselves. Due to our league form, it's almost a blessing in disguise that we could be heading out at the early stages to let us concentrate on pushing forward for promotion, but then who doesn't love the thrill of an exciting cup run at the end of the day? Personally, I'm also looking forward to ticking off another new ground I've not yet been too.

Who do you think your key players will be for this game?

Alex: Bizarrely it's probably as difficult to predict our own line up as much as yours, with Zola having such a large squad he'll be sure to rotate a few. If they play then Hogg, Chalobah and Abdi will be essential to us having any success in midfield, and if Forestieri plays then he really does have the magic to make something happen. Chalobah's my tip though, I fancy him to really impress if given the space and room on the pitch.

What is your predicted line-up? 

Alex: We'll line up 3-5-2 with wing backs, that much is pretty certain: XI will be Almunia (GK); Neuton (CB), Hoban (CB), Ekstrand (CB), Cassetti (WBR), Pudil (WBL), Hogg (DMC), Chalobah (MC), Abdi (AMC), Deeney (ST), Vydra (ST)

Then there's also shouts for others to be involved, Anya, Forestieri, Geijo, M'Bia, Battocchio.

What do you think of your current manager Gianfranco Zola and do you feel he is the man to bring success to Watford?

Alex: I think much was made of Dyche's sacking when our new owners took over in the summer, but it's plain to see that Zola is the man to push their philosophies on the pitch and play the football necessary to suit the players we've been sent. It's also worth noting that Zola is a 'Head Coach' rather than a manager, leaving all player duties to Gianluca Nani so there's always the possibility that Dyche wouldn't have liked working under those conditions, but we'll never know.

Anyway, back to the point, Zola has shown good sense in his tactics so far, though a lot are questioning his decisions for our last game at home to Charlton, but we're in a playoff position and look like we could go up, so he's obviously doing something right.

Lastly, what are your thoughts on Watford’s promotion push?

Alex: When all this came about I didn't want to excite myself with the possibility of going up, to prevent any disappointment, and we were told in numerous press releases that this season would be transitional, all the new players would have to get to grips and gel, and next season we're going to make a go for it, but so far we've exceeded initial expectations, we've looked good against any side higher than us in the league and putting away a lot of goals, especially on our travels. There's a few things to iron out and a few particular positions that might need cover, and there's no reason why we can't go the full length.

A big thank you to Alex for taking the time out to answer the questions.

Remember to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

You can also follow Archie on Twitter: @ArchieMCFC
You can also follow Alex Prentice on Twitter: @WFCforums and @Aprentice88

(c) The Sky Blue View 2013

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