The storied franchise of the FA Cup will be renewed once more tomorrow as Manchester City meet Stoke at Wembley to decide who will carry the Cup home. Man City are hot favorites for this encounter, but don’t look for Stoke for to lie down and die. Both clubs are sorely hurting for silverware, and will give everything to take something away from Wembley today.
Manchester City are a club who have managed to secure Champions League football next season, but it has to be said that this was only the side show to the real hope of their supporters, an end to the 35 year trophy drought that has come to define them. Kevin Keegan may have put it best in his column on ESPN:
“If you win one trophy then often others will follow. It can spark a domino effect. City haven’t won something for so long – 35 years, since the 1976 League Cup final – so they really need to have their name up in lights once again to get that winning feeling back. Yes, the Champions League is lucrative and prestigious, but if you could pick either fourth place or the cup, I would have said the cup. The men in Manchester City jerseys have a trophy drought hanging over their heads, and ending it is paramount.”
City will have to do more than just show up today to make it through the men from Stoke, but if they can wake up early on in the match, and not get complacent, their superior quality in players and management should lift the mover the top. If they do get complacent, look for Stoke to punish them on the break, scoring from outside the box with longer shots. They know they can’t stand toe to toe with City defense, and they won’t try.
For Stoke to upset City, they’ll need to play out of their skin for all 90 minutes. If they can manage to strike early, and keep City on the back foot, they may be able to hold on for long enough to win. Mancini’s tactics on the pitch have shown he adapts poorly to these situations, and once his side with less than 20 minutes remaining he becomes reckless. If Stoke can exploit this, they may just pull it out of the hat.
Overall, I hope it will be a good even match, but I’m prepared for a one sided affair.
Manchester City 3-0 Stoke
Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com
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