Manchester City vs Sheffield United Preview: Probable Lineups, Prediction, Tactics, Team News & Key Stats

A place in the FA Cup final will be on the line when Manchester City and Sheffield United clash at Wembley on Saturday.

The FA Cup is back with the penultimate stage, with the semi-finals beginning on Saturday. The first of the two fixtures will take place on Saturday, with Manchester City and Sheffield United locking horns at Wembley.

Manchester City started the FA Cup campaign this season with a 4-0 rout of Chelsea. And they are yet to concede a goal thus far, beating Arsenal (1-0), Bristol City (3-0), and Burnley (6-0). On the other hand, Sheffield United faced tougher challenges en route to the semi-finals.

They needed a fourth-round replay against Wrexham while beating Blackburn Rovers by the odd goal in five in the quarter-finals. But the Blades also managed the scalp of Tottenham Hotspur along the way, beating the North London club in the fifth round. Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola’s men have been on a roll across all competitions in the last few weeks.

The reigning Premier League champions last lost a game over two months ago, with only three matches since then not ending in a Manchester City win. On the other hand, Sheffield United have lost just one of their last seven fixtures, which came against Championship winners Burnley.

The last three games between Manchester City and Sheffield United have ended in a 1-0 victory for Guardiola and his charges. And ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.

Team News & Tactics

Manchester City

Pep Guardiola has a new injury concern hampering his preparations ahead of the FA Cup semi-final. Against Sheffield United on Saturday, the Manchester City manager will be bereft of the services of one first-team player.

Nathan Ake sustained a thigh injury earlier this week against Bayern Munich. The Dutchman is thus unavailable to take on Sheffield United this weekend. Meanwhile, Phil Foden will unlikely be fit enough to make the starting eleven on Saturday.

Stefan Ortega will make a rare appearance in the starting eleven, with Manchester City lining up in a 3-2-4-1 formation in front of him. Aymeric Laporte will replace Ake, joining John Stones and Ruben Dias in the central defensive unit. Meanwhile, the system will see Stones and Laporte spreading wide to be auxiliary full-backs depending on the phase of the game.

Rico Lewis will return to the team, joining Rodri in the double pivot. The duo will provide an added layer of protection to the backline. And the presence of the five defensive-minded players will give the five men in the final third the freedom to express themselves.

Erling Haaland will likely spearhead the Manchester City attack, with the four players behind him forming the supporting cast. While Riyad Mahrez and Jack Grealish will be the two wide men, Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan should man the central areas.

Probable Lineup (3-2-4-1): Ortega; Stones, Dias, Laporte; Lewis, Rodri; Mahrez, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Grealish; Haaland

Sheffield United

Unlike his counterpart in the Manchester City dugout, Paul Heckingbottom has a plethora of concerns to deal with ahead of the trip to Wembley. The Sheffield United manager will be without seven first-team players on Saturday.

The 45-year-old will not be able to call upon James McAtee and Tommy Doyle, who are ineligible to take on their parent club. In addition, Enda Stevens (muscle injury), Rhys Norrington-Davies (hamstring), Jack O’Donnell (knee), Ben Osborn (thigh), and Rhian Brewster (hamstring) are on the sidelines.

But there is some good news as Wes Foderingham is available after serving a suspension. The 32-year-old should return to the starting eleven, with Sheffield United lining up in a 3-5-2 formation in front of him. And the central defensive unit should feature Anel Ahmedhodzic, John Egan, and Jack Robinson.

The two wide centre-backs will overlap the midfielders at times to create overloads high up the pitch. Meanwhile, the wing-backs will threaten Manchester City with their crossing abilities. So George Baldock and Max Lowe should have enough opportunities to make their mark.

Sander Berge has been a revelation for Sheffield United and will hold the key in the middle of the park. The Norwegian international will push the visitors forward when he gets the ball. And he will join Oliver Norwood and John Fleck in the midfield unit. Finally, Ollie McBurnie and Iliman Ndiaye will be the two strikers for Sheffield United against Manchester City.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Foderingham; Ahmedhodzic, Egan, Robinson; Baldock, Berge, Norwood, Fleck, Lowe; McBurnie, Ndiaye

Key Stats

  • Sheffield United have won all four FA Cup ties against Manchester City, most recently a 2-1 fourth-round victory in the 2007/08 campaign.
  • Since losing 1-0 to Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup in February 2018, Manchester City have won their last 21 domestic cup ties against teams from a lower division. They have scored 78 goals in this run, conceding just 11 in return.
  • Top-flight clubs have won the last 13 FA Cup semi-final ties against sides from a lower division since Sunderland beat Norwich City 1-0 at Hillsborough in the 1991/92 campaign.
  • Sheffield United beat Tottenham Hotspur in the fifth round of the FA Cup this season, ending a run of five consecutive defeats against top-flight sides in the competition. They last eliminated multiple top-tier opponents in a single campaign in 2013/14 (Aston Villa and Fulham).
  • Erling Haaland scored a hat-trick in Manchester City’s 6-0 quarter-final win over Burnley, making him the first-ever player to score an FA Cup, Premier League and Champions League hat-trick in the same campaign.

Player to Watch

Aymeric Laporte

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Just when Aymeric Laporte was running out of opportunities at Manchester City, an opening has presented itself. The Spanish international has struggled considerably this season, with Pep Guardiola relegating him to the bench more often than not.

Recent reports have also suggested that Laporte is surplus to requirements at Manchester City. But the 28-year-old is not one to give up without a fight and will look to grab his opportunity with both hands. And while Sheffield United might not be the biggest test, a solid showing can help his long-term future.


Manchester City 2-0 Sheffield United

Manchester City and Sheffield United have ominous FA Cup records heading into this contest. The Citizens have lost four of their last five games at Wembley (W1), as many as they had in their first 18 at the ground since its reopening in 2007 (W11 D3).

On the other hand, Sheffield United are winless in their last six competitive matches at Wembley Stadium (D1 L5) since winning their first-ever match at the ground in the 1925 FA Cup final (1-0 vs Cardiff City). And that streak will continue on Saturday, with the Blades falling victim to another Manchester City masterclass.

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