2011 – The fairytale final. It is a tale of two cities, Manchester and Stoke, hoping for a euphoric Wembley experience. Manchester City are the team everybody expects to win, but the pressure is immense and this current crop of City players would be the first in sky blue to lift a trophy since 1976. If you think that’s a long time, spare a thought for Stoke fans. Potters die-hards have had almost zero success. In fact, in the 148 years of the Stoke football club, it has only once claimed any sort of silverware. Which city will be celebrating on the biggest English football day of all?
Manchester City v Stoke (0000 AEST)
Manchester City are going to win right? Firmly entrenched in the big four? Tick. Star players across the park? Tick. An astute manager? Tick. A culture of success? Erm, no. The longer a club goes without success, the more the weight of expectation from the fans can hold them back. Fortunately for City, the Manchester one, their opponents Stoke don’t exactly have a recent history of sustained success. Actually, they don’t have any history of success. So if Stoke aren’t going to have the edge there, where can they gain it? At set pieces, that’s where. In my semi-final preview I discussed the aerial threat players like Robert Huth bring. Huth has a giant noggin highlighted by a massive forehead. If you could design someone to head a soccer ball, you would use Huth’s forehead. The other player from Stoke that gets me excited is Rory ‘the arms’ Delap. For neutrals, one way to really enjoy this final is to have a drink every time Delap launches a long throw in deep into the opposition box! In all seriousness though, Stoke may have a few cult figures, but Manchester City have the class and will be just that bit too good, probably winning by just a single goal. Prior to placing any wagers, I would advise waiting for the teams to be announced an hour before kickoff. The main interest is to see if Carlos Tevez will start for Manchester City. If he does, it will be a big boost for the Sky Blues. The Cup is going to the blue half of Manchester.
Andy’s Bet: Manchester City to win in normal time @ 1.89 (Betfair)
Andy’s Bet: Manchester City to win by exactly 1 goal @ 3.50 (Betfair)