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How Watford can learn from Wigan and inflict FA Cup final upset onto Manchester City

A leading sports psychologist has explained how Watford can approach their FA Cup final clash with Manchester City and upset the odds to lift the trophy.

City and Watford meet at Wembley on the 18th of May, with Pep Guardiola’s side likely to be looking to make it a domestic treble for the season with a victory against the Hornets.

City do have the small matter of wrapping up the Premier League title first this weekend, with the club the favourites to retain their title on another huge points total after they hit the 100-mark last term.

So what hope do a team like Watford possibly have against one of the best sides English football has ever seen? It might not be as hard as the football betting odds suggest

Crucially, says Dan Abrahams, Javi Gracia’s side need to focus on the elements of the game they know they can control, and try as hard as possible to treat the game just like any other.

Wigan managed to do it with a shock 1-0 win over City in the 2013 FA Cup final, and this is what Watford can learn from the Latics’ shock success…

“As the name performance anxiety suggests, players can experience psychological anxiety and physiological stress response,” says Abrahams.

“Players develop tunnel vision, where they no longer see a 360-degree view of the pitch. It will make them feel lethargic and flat, so they’re slow to anticipate and are slow to make decisions.

“Their first touch goes and their motor behaviour, which is essentially their technique, atrophies. Subsequently, what you see is a player playing worse.

“Sticking to your normal routine is really important.

“You’re trying to help players perceive the game in the same way they perceive every game.

“Self-talk, breathing techniques and directing your focus and attention can help.

“A player can manage their stress levels by speaking to themselves: “OK, stop. This is a big game, but all I’ve got to do is stick to what I usually do. I can’t force a great performance or guarantee a great result. I’ve just got to focus on what I can control.

“It’s the controlling the controllables philosophy.”