FA Cup Final Preview: Man City v Wigan

Roberto Mancini, the Manchester City manager

Mancini: domestic cup specialist

Manchester City go into Saturday’s FA Cup final (5:15pm, live on ITV) at Wembley as clear favourites against an injury-ravaged Wigan team who also have the spectre of relegation from the Premier League hanging over them.

The Citizens have a far more illustrious history in the FA Cup than their opponents, having won the competition on five occasions, most recently in 2011. Wigan will appear in the final for the first time in their history.

City manager Roberto Mancini has proved himself somewhat of a domestic cup specialist in his managerial career to date, winning Italian Cups with Fiorentina, Lazio and Inter Milan, and then opening his account in English football with City’s 2011 FA Cup success.

Having failed to lead his side to a successful defence of their 2011/12 Premier League title, Mancini will be keen to add another domestic cup medal to his cabinet with rumours continuing to swirl about his long-term future at the club.

City’s path to the final has seen them defeat three Championship sides and two from the Premier League, including Chelsea, who were defeated 2-1 at Wembley in the semi final last month. Mancini’s men dominated for much of that match and could have won by an wider margin had their finishing been sharper.

Mancini has consistently lamented the club’s failure to sign Robin Van Persie last summer and the lack of a killer touch in front of goal has certainly contributed to their inability to offer a credible challenge to their neighbours Manchester United in the Premier League title race.

City scored an highly impressive 93 goals in winning the 2011/12 title (2.45 per match), but have mustered just 62 in their 36 league matches to date in this campaign (1.72 per match). This decrease can partly be attributed to the more control-based, possession-heavy approach Mancini has implemented, but it is also clear that City have struggled in front of goal.

While Van Persie has knocked in 25 goals for United, City’s current top scorer is Edin Dzeko with just 13. Sergio Aguero, who scored 23 times during the 2011/12 title-winning campaign, has had a largely disappointing season, contributing just 11 goals, the same as his compatriot Carlos Tevez.

Despite their offensive deficiencies and the fact that they have also conceded slightly more goals per match on average than last season, the Citizens are still all but assured of finishing in second and certainly come into Saturday’s final in better condition than Wigan, whose Premier League future hangs in the balance.

Roberto Martinez’s men have made a habit of houdini-like escapes in the final months of the season over the last couple of years. But following a harrowing 3-2 defeat at home to Swansea in midweek their chances of again defying the odds have significantly decreased.

With just two matches left to play, three points currently separate the Latics from the three teams ahead of them. They have a similar goal difference to two of those sides, but know that two victories – away to Arsenal and at home to Aston Villa – will likely be required if they are to secure themselves another season of Premier League football.

Wigan are in the midst of an injury crisis that has further damaged their hopes of survival. Defenders Maynor Figueroa and Ivan Ramis will definitely be absent for Saturday’s final, while Antolin Alcaraz is also a doubt. In addition, wing-backs Ronnie Stam and Jean Beausejour are all but certain to miss out.

In the circumstances, Saturday’s final could provide a welcome respite for Wigan, allowing the players to go out and play unburdened by the pressure that has accompanied each of their league matches for the last couple of months. In Arouna Kone and Shaun Maloney they have at least two players capable of conjuring a match-winning moment of brilliance.

Wigan have enjoyed an easier run to the final than their opponents, defeating just one Premier League side (Everton) and otherwise facing one from the Conference, one from League One and two from the Championship. They booked their place in the final with a 2-0 win over Millwall.

Manchester City vs Wigan Betting Tips Verdict

City triumphed in both matches between these sides in the Premier League this season, winning 1-0 at home and 2-0 away. Wigan have failed to score against the Citizens in the last seven meetings between the sides, going back to 2010.

City may have struggled to find the back of the net with the same regularity as last season, but they still have the necessary firepower to take advantage of a Wigan defence that has been little short of shambolic in recent weeks.

Wigan play open, attacking football and should at least ensure that Saturday’s final is an entertaining one. Matches involving them have averaged more goals (3.08) than those of all but one other team (Manchester United) in the Premier League this season.

  • City have the necessary defensive strength to deal with Wigan’s attack and can be fancied to score goals. We therefore suggest backing Manchester City -2 on an Asian Handicap @ 6/4 with Bet365. If City win by two goals your stake is returned; a bigger winning margin sees the bet pay out
  • Carlos Tevez is City’s top scorer in the FA Cup and also scored against Wigan in the league earlier this season. We therefore suggest backing Carlos Tevez to score at anytime @ Evens with Coral or Ladbrokes.

FA Cup Final Betting Odds