Seven hundred and thirty-six clubs entered this year’s FA Cup with half of them kicking off on the first weekend of August. And from the pack has emerged Manchester City and Watford to contest the 2019 FA Cup Final.
This is the 138th FA Cup Final, the 11th that Manchester City have reached, and just the second appearance for Watford. It is the first time the two clubs have met in an FA Cup Final and becomes the 116th different pairing of teams in FA Cup Final history.
By virtue of reaching the FA Cup Final this year Manchester City become the 10th best club in the competition’s history, replacing West Bromwich Albion. A victory in the Final would be their 6th in total and would move the club up to 8th in the all-time rankings, leapfrogging Blackburn Rovers and Everton.
Watford will be looking to become the 44th different name to be etched on the famous trophy. Victory for the Hornets would move the club up to 33rd in the overall rankings, but defeat would mean they join an exclusive group of four other clubs who have appeared in multiple FA Cup Finals but failed to lift the Trophy. Queen’s Park, Birmingham City and Crystal Palace all have two FA Cup Final appearances, but Leicester City have appeared in four Finals and are yet to win the Cup.
It is 35 years since Watford last appeared in an FA Cup Final. Only five clubs have had to wait longer between their first and second appearance in a Cup Final, and some big names are on that list. There was a 36 year gap for Liverpool, 39 years for Manchester United, a gap of 41 years for West Ham United, and 52 years for Chelsea between their respective first and second FA Cup Finals. But the longest wait a club has had between their first two FA Cup Final appearances is the 61 years between 1898 and 1959 that Nottingham Forest had to endure. Forest then had to wait another 32 years for their 3rd Cup Final appearance.
Manchester City have scored twice as many goals as Watford in reaching the FA Cup Final, 20 versus ten. The last club to score 20 goals and lift the Trophy was Chelsea back in 2012. Chelsea, along with Newcastle United, also hold the record for most goals scored (25) en route to lifting the Trophy since the current FA Cup structure was put in place in 1925-26 season. This excludes the 37 scored by Derby County in 1945-46 when for one season only all ties before the Semi-Finals were played over two legs.
If Manchester City are to match the current record of 25 goals they would need to post the second biggest number of goals scored by one side in an FA Cup Final. Blackburn Rovers and Bury both hit their respective opponents for six, but no club has actually scored a total of exactly five goals in a Cup Final. If Manchester City do achieve it by scoring at least five goals then they would do so by posting the best goals per game of any Cup winning side since the 1925-26 re-structure. They’d need to hit 10 goals, though, to beat the overall highest goals per game set by Blackburn Olympic in 1883, who scored 34 goals in their seven matches.
When Manchester City lost to Wigan Athletic in the 2013 FA Cup Final it was the culmination of a rare sequence of events in that year’s competition which is potentially set to be repeated this season. In the 2012-13 campaign there was just one Extra Preliminary Round tie where the winners of that tie subsequently lost in the Preliminary Round and their victors went on to lose in the 1st Qualifying Round, and their victors lost in the 2nd Qualifying Round, and on and on up to the Final itself.
The odds on that happening starting from the Extra Preliminary Round across all 14 rounds of the FA Cup are over 8,000/1. However, the same sequence is amazingly happening again this season, but whereas Manchester City were on the wrong end of the sequence in 2013, they would be the beneficiaries from it should it happen again this year.
Round 2012-13 2018-19
EP Continental Star beat Causeway United Biggleswade beat Northampton ON Chenecks
PR Stourport Swifts beat Continental Star Soham Town Rangers beat Biggleswade
Q1 Stafford Rangers beat Stourport Swifts FC Romania beat Soham Town Rangers
Q2 Gresley beat Stafford Rangers Beaconsfield Town beat FC Romania
Q3 Ilkeston beat Gresley Concord Rangers beat Beaconsfield Town
Q4 AFC Fylde beat Ilkeston Dover Athletic beat Concord Rangers
R1 Accrington Stanley beat AFC Fylde Bury beat Dover Athletic
R2 Oxford United beat Accrington Stanley Luton Town beat Bury
R3 Sheffield United beat Oxford United Sheffield Wednesday beat Luton Town
R4 Reading beat Sheffield United Chelsea beat Sheffield Wednesday
R5 Manchester United beat Reading Manchester United beat Chelsea
R6 Chelsea beat Manchester United Wolves beat Manchester United
SF Manchester City beat Chelsea Watford beat Wolves
Fin Wigan Athletic beat Manchester City Manchester City to beat Watford?
That win by Wigan Athletic in the 2013 FA Cup Final was also the last time a new club had their name etched on the plinth of the famous trophy. In fact the last two clubs to be added to the roll of honour both begin with the letter ‘W’ (Wimbledon in 1988 was the other one) and so maybe there is something in the stars that says that Watford can lift the trophy for the first time this year?
Watford and Manchester City have faced each other six times in the FA Cup in the past. In the 1985-86 Fourth Round it took three ties to separate them with Watford eventually winning 3-1 in the second replay. Since then Manchester City have won all three meetings at the first time of asking, the most recent in the 4th Round in 2013-14 by four goals to two.
The overall FA Cup head-to-head record:
Played 6, Watford 1 win, Manchester City 3 wins, and 2 draws. Watford 7 goals, Manchester City 12 goals