Not too many people could have predicted that Manchester City and Stoke would be the teams to reach the FA Cup final, but that is exactly what makes this competition so special.
The Citizens couldn’t have wished for the better way to reach the final seeing they beat fierce rivals Manchester United in the semis, but there is no doubt they now face another very difficult opponent.
Roberto Mancini’s side enter the match on a high having clinched the Champions League qualification with the 1:0 victory over Tottenham and the Citizens are 1.91 (10/11) with Victor Chandler to win the game in regular time.
The Italian manager has received a major boost as Carlos Tevez returned into action after recovering from a hamstring injury, with the Argentine likely to start this game.
Gareth Barry missed City’s last two games, but has already resumed full training, meaning that the England international will return to the starting line-up as well.
Probable starting line-up (4-3-3): Hart – Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Zabaleta – De Jong, Barry, Y. Toure – Silva, Tevez, A. Johnson.
Stoke are clearly the surprise package of this year’s FA Cup campaign, even if the Potters had much easier road to the final than Manchester City.
Tony Pulis was originally not too keen on the competition as he wanted to keep his players fresh for the Premiership campaign, but once the Potters ensured survival, they shifted their focus to the FA Cup, which produced excellent results.
Stoke proved their credentials with an impressive 5:0 victory over Bolton in the semi-finals and their uncompromising approach is now set to cause City all sorts of problems.
I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if Tony Pulis’ side manage to surprise the Citizens, so odds of 3.00 (2/1) offered by William Hill on Stoke to win the FA Cup do look tempting.
With both Robert Huth and Matthew Etherington major doubts for the game at Wembley, the Potters could enter this match severely weakened, especially as Danny Higginbotham and Ricardo Fuller are long-term casualties.
Probable starting line-up (4-4-2): Begovic – Wilkinson, Huth, Shawcross, Wilson – Whelan, Delap, Whitehead, Pennant – Walters, Jones.