All eyes on the Manchester Derby in the FA Cup Final

Under the storied arch of Wembley Stadium, the 142nd FA Cup final will feature a Manchester derby for the first time

(Football news) Man City hopes to become the first English side since rivals Man United in 1998–99 to win the Premier League, FA Cup, and Champions League in the same season, four years after they became the first team to ever accomplish the feat in domestic football in England. With Pep Guardiola’s team finishing the Premier League season five points ahead of their closest rivals Arsenal, Citizens already have one trophy in the bag after winning the top division title for the third consecutive year and for the fifth time in six seasons.

A heavily rotated City team lost 1-0 at Brentford in their penultimate league game of the year on Sunday, snapping their remarkable 25-game undefeated streak across all competitions as they kept an eye on their quest for the treble. However, Guardiola has effectively limited the playing time of his first-team stars over the last two weeks and hopes they have heeded his counsel to temporarily ‘separate’ from the rigours of their busy schedule in order to prepare for Saturday’s match with their fierce rivals.

Man City’s attention is currently on the FA Cup and their 12th final in the competition, even if a trip to Istanbul for the Champions League’s grand finale against Inter Milan is scheduled in a few weeks. The Citizens have competed in 11 FA Cup finals, winning six of them and losing five. Their most recent triumph came in 2019 when they romped to a stunning 6-0 victory over Watford, which is tied for the second-largest winning margin in cup final history.

Only Preston North End in 1889 and Bury in 1903 have ever won the FA Cup without giving up a goal. Man City has defeated Chelsea, Arsenal, Bristol City, Burnley, and Sheffield United, defeating the latter 3-0 in the semi-finals thanks to a hat-trick from Riyad Mahrez.

The Citizens, who have the most goals in this year’s FA Cup with 17, have a perfect record in domestic cup finals under Guardiola, winning five of them altogether since his appointment in 2016. However, they have lost four of their last six trips to Wembley and failed to score in three of those.

Man City will not be taking their opponents lightly on Saturday after losing 2-1 at Old Trafford in the most recent derby matchup in January. The bait of FA Cup triumph versus Man United to strengthen their triple aspirations is undoubtedly attractive.

Indeed, Man United enters the FA Cup final in good spirits after winning their last four Premier League games to secure third place and Champions League football for next season, despite finishing 14 points behind champions Man City. This marks Man United’s 21st FA Cup final, the joint-most of any team in the competition’s history with Arsenal.

The Red Devils defeated Fulham 2-1 on the final day, with goals from Jadon Sancho and Bruno Fernandes turning the game on its head after Kenny Tete had started the scoring. The Red Devils had previously defeated Chelsea emphatically at home 4-1 the week prior on Thursday.

Few would have predicted that Manchester United would have recovered in such an impressive way after losing to Brentford and Brighton & Hove Albion at the beginning of the 2022–23 season. Now that the club has ensured a top–four finish, Erik ten Hag is working to lead the team to their first–ever domestic cup double.

The Dutchman helped his club win the EFL Cup at the end of February after defeating Newcastle United 2-0 at Wembley, ending United’s six-year trophy drought. The Red Devils will undoubtedly be pleased with their FA Cup victory on Saturday, which will stop Man City from completing the triple.

Man United have advanced to their first FA Cup final in five years after overcoming Everton, Reading, West Ham United, Fulham, and Brighton. They won their first four matches by a combined score of 3-1 before defeating the Seagulls in a tense penalty shootout after a goalless 120-minute semifinal draw.

The last time the Red Devils won the FA Cup was in 2015–16, when they defeated Crystal Palace 2-1 after extra time and a late Jesse Lingard goal, two years before losing 1-0 to Chelsea in their most recent FA Cup final.

Only Arsenal (14) has ever won the FA Cup more frequently than Man United (12), but the latter also has the unfavourable record for sharing the most losses (eight) in the competition’s championship game with Chelsea and Everton. Man United will enter the final on Saturday as a little underdog, a situation that has only happened once before.

 Man United has lost three of their past four derby matches against Man City by an aggregate score of 12-4, including a troubling 6-3 Premier League loss earlier this season. However, they can draw motivation from their FA Cup head-to-head record with the Citizens, as they have won five of the last six games with their noisy neighbours, most recently winning 3-2 away in January 2012. The only loss was a 1-0 semi-final defeat at Wembley in 2010–11, which they made up for with a victory in the finals.

Form Guide

Manchester City       W W W D L

Manchester United  L W W W W

Squad Updates

Four members of Man City’s starting lineup, Kevin De Bruyne, Jack Grealish, Ruben Dias, and Manuel Akanji, are all questionable after sitting out the team’s loss against Brentford due to minor injuries or fitness issues. The Dutch defender is in contention to keep his position on the left flank while John Stones is expected to make a comeback and take up his hybrid midfield role alongside Rodri. John Stones began against the Bees and played for little over an hour after recovering from a hamstring injury. 

The issue of whether to start cup goalkeeper Stefan Ortega, who has started four of City’s five FA Cup games this season, or first-choice shot-stopper Ederson is a crucial one for Guardiola. The team’s captain, Ilkay Gundogan, is expected to start in centre midfield. Bernardo Silva will likely compete for a spot on the right wing with Stockport native Phil Foden and semi-final hat-trick hero, Mahrez, while goal-scoring machine Erling Braut Haaland, who scored a hat-trick in the 6-3 victory over United last October, will lead the line and try to add to his astounding total of 52 goals across all competitions.

Anthony Martial, who suffered a hamstring injury, has been ruled out for Man United. He is joined in the medical area by Lisandro Martinez (foot), Marcel Sabitzer, Donny van de Beek (both knee), and Tom Heaton (ankle). Despite being carried off on a stretcher in tears during the victory over Chelsea due to an ankle injury, Antony has a “good opportunity” to recover in time for the championship match, according to Ten Hag. The Brazilian, however, is unlikely to be inserted immediately back into the starting lineup, so Alejandro Garnacho and former Man City youngster Jadon Sancho will most likely occupy the flanks.

Left-back Luke Shaw is able to start again after overcoming a slight back problem, and Raphael Varane will take the place of captain Harry Maguire and partner Victor Lindelof in the centre of defence. Marcus Rashford, United’s leading scorer, and Casemiro, the centre of the midfield, are both expected to start. Rashford is expected to start as a central striker, while Casemiro is expected to line up alongside Bruno Fernandes, Christian Eriksen, or Fred in the middle of the field.

Predicted Playing Xl

Manchester City: Stefan Oretga, Walker, Dias, Ake, Stones, Rodri, Bernardo, De Bruyne, Gundogan, Grealish, Haaland

Manchester United: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Lindelof, Shaw, Casemiro, Eriksen, Sancho, Fernandes, Garnacho; Rashford

Also read: Mason Mount keen to join Manchester United


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