History beckons between Manchester City and Manchester United. There are two “doubles” on the line and even a “treble” as the 189th Manchester derby plays out in the 142nd FA Cup final.
Saturday’s clash at Wembley will either see Premier League champions City take a giant step towards achieving a treble of league, FA Cup and Champions League by adding the cup to their championship crown, or United win their 13th FA Cup to complete a domestic cup double, having won the Carabao Cup by beating Newcastle in February.
There is also the issue of local rivalry, with City and United facing each other in a major final for the first time.
Is this really the biggest FA Cup final ever?
If you remove club loyalties and take a dispassionate view don’t expect Liverpool, Arsenal or Chelsea fans to give this FA Cup final top billing it’s hard to pinpoint any previous one that has carried so much significance and attracted such global interest.
In the 1980s, Liverpool and Everton dominated English football for a lengthy period and the FA Cup final staged two Merseyside derbies, in 1986 and 1989, both of which were won by Liverpool. The 1986 game saw Liverpool win to secure their first league and FA Cup double, with Everton finishing runners-up in both competitions, but there was no treble on the line or the possibility of the other team doing a double.
There have also been heavyweight encounters in recent years between United and Arsenal, as well as Liverpool and Chelsea, but this cup final really does have everything.
United want to end the season with two trophies and win both domestic cups for the first time in the same campaign, but they also desperately want to stop City doing the treble. That’s not only because local pride is at stake, it’s because the treble is United’s unique achievement among English teams and they don’t want to share the distinction of doing it with anyone, least of all City.
On the flipside, City are desperate to beat United en route to their own treble. Doing the treble would be satisfying enough, but brushing past United at the penultimate hurdle will only make it sweeter for manager Pep Guardiola and his players.
Martial’s injury means Rashford will likely start up front, rather than cutting in from the left wing as he has tended to do for a lot of this season, so the task of stopping him will probably fall to centre back Ruben Dias.
Rashford told the BBC’s Gary Lineker that Erik ten Hag has helped him develop as a goal-scorer.
“I think as a number nine I’m playing much better now. I used to feel like on the left I’ve always got goals in me and I can create an opportunity on the left and then sometimes when I’m in the middle, I feel like I’m trying too hard to get on the ball,” he said.
“When you’re a striker, patience is probably the biggest skill. I’ve always had the hunger to score, but this is what I needed to get right about playing as a number nine because this is what used to frustrate me the most – I don’t mind missing chances, I’d rather miss a chance than not get a chance.
“Sometimes when I was a number nine, I’d be just too impatient. I’d be trying to get on the ball because I’ve not seen much of the ball. Then the ball would go wide and I’d know where I need to be in the box, but I’m one second late and then it would just frustrate me.
“A lot of work has been put into just hold your positions, play a bit more with the defenders.”
Last time Man City and Man United met in the FA Cup
United bounced back from losing to City in the 2011 FA Cup semifinal and knocked Roberto Mancini’s side out of the competition the following season at the Third Round stage.
City’s FA Cup defence ended at the first hurdle, as Vincent Kompany’s early red card was ruthlessly punished by United. Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck had United 3-0 up at halftime in a match played at the Etihad Stadium.
The hosts did rally after the break, as Aleksandar Kolarov and Sergio Aguero forced them back into the tie, but United held on in the Manchester rain.
While the last few years have not been as lucrative for the other Manchester club, bright days seem ahead for United. Under manager Erik ten Hag, the club was able to punch a return to the Champions League next season after finishing third in the EPL table this season. Under the bright star of Marcus Rashford, and a lineup capable of beating the top clubs on their soil, they have a chance to pull off the upset on Saturday.
This is the Red Devils’ 21st trip to the FA Cup Final, and first since losing to Chelsea in 2018. ManU is currently second, all-time, in FA Cup titles, with their 12 having them two behind another rival, Arsenal.
While City has won five of the last seven derby clashes, United is 78-53-58 against their crosstown rivals, including earning a split against the EPL champs during the regular season.
Why are City such strong favourites to win?
There are so many threads to City story, and many can be traced back to being owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi.
Since Sheikh Mansour bought City in 2008, the club have been transformed from a perennially-failing team to arguably the best side in the world. City have the best players Erling Haaland, Kevin De Bruyne and the best manager in Guardiola, but while Sheikh Mansour’s financial might makes a huge difference, their period of dominance is all down to Guardiola.
City hired the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach in 2016 with the objective of turning the team into the best in England and Europe. With five of the last six Premier League titles, England was dominated a long time ago, while City are just one win (against Inter Milan in this season’s Champions League final) from conquering Europe for the first time, too.
Guardiola’s intensity and attention to detail are renowned, but it is his ability to constantly improve and re-invent players that marks him out as the best around. Centre-back John Stones has been converted into a midfielder this season, teenage full-back Rico Lewis has been trusted to operate at right-back and defensive midfield, while Jack Grealish, Nathan Ake, Riyad Mahrez and Rodri have all taken their games to a new level.
OnMyWay Is The #1 Distracted Driving Mobile App In The Nation!
OnMyWay, based in Charleston, SC, The Only Mobile App That Pays its Users Not to Text and Drive.
The #1 cause of death among young adults ages 16-27 is Car Accidents, with the majority related to Distracted Driving.
OnMyWay’s mission is to reverse this epidemic through positive rewards. Users get paid for every mile they do not text and drive and can refer their friends to get compensated for them as well.
The money earned can then be used for Cash Cards, Gift Cards, Travel Deals and Much, Much More….
The company also makes it a point to let users know that OnMyWay does NOT sell users data and only tracks them for purposes of providing a better experience while using the app.
The OnMyWay app is free to download and is currently available on both the App Store for iPhones and Google Play for Android @ OnMyWay; Drive Safe, Get Paid.
Download App Now – https://r.onmyway.com
Sponsors and advertisers can contact the company directly through their website @ www.onmyway.com