FA Cup Final Preview: Manchester City vs. Stoke City

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FA Cup Final Preview: Manchester City vs. Stoke City
Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

For Manchester City, Saturday's FA Cup final is a glorious chance to win their first major trophy since 1976, and thus end a 35-baron spell that has kept Manchester United fans amused for decades.

There's even a ticker at Old Trafford that keeps count of City's wait for honors. How City fans would dearly love to see it packed up and put away for good.

Roberto Mancini's men are favorites to beat Stoke City at Wembley and if they perform to their potential, they should claim a fifth FA Cup triumph—their first since 1969.

Manchester City have undergone a spectacular revolution since then.

Bankrolled by an oil-rich Sheihk, the Blues have spent millions building a star-studded squad to challenge for domestic and European honors. Mancini has qualified them for the Champions League and more signings are sure to follow this summer.

In contrast, Stoke are owned by a local businessman and have succeeded through a combination of shrewd business sense off the field and passion on it.

Their manager, Tony Pulis, is a pragmatist who plays to his team's strengths and has led his team through a fine Premier League campaign this season.

Saturday will be Stoke's first FA Cup final, but on the evidence of their 5-0 hammering of Bolton in a Wembley semi-final, they will not be overawed by the occasion.

The greater weight of expectancy will clearly fall on Manchester City, and with that comes the risk of frustration and nerves if things don't go to plan in the early exchanges.

Mancini will be looking to the likes of Carlos Tevez and David Silva to provide attacking inspiration, and trusting his back four to cope with the notable threat of Stoke's Kenwyne Jones.

I expect a tense and tight game, with scrappy periods and lots of tackles flying in. Stoke will give City a serious fright, but I think City have enough quality to prevail. City to score first, Stoke to equalize.

City to win it late on with a goal from Tevez.

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