The FA Cup final will be a Manchester Derby for the first-ever time when Manchester City and Manchester United clash at Wembley on Saturday.

Considering the wealth of history between the two clubs, it is a wonder that Manchester City vs Manchester United has never been a fixture in the FA Cup final. Nevertheless, the Red Devils stand in their noisy neighbours’ way as the Premier League champions look to emulate them by winning the treble this season.

Almost every season under Pep Guardiola has seen Manchester City being in the treble/quadruple picture during the run-in. But the infamous overthinking by the Catalan manager often tends to spoil those plans. But 2022/23 presents Manchester City with the best opportunity to right the wrongs of the last few campaigns.

Guardiola’s men have already won the Premier League title and have arguably favourable fixtures in the two cup finals. While Manchester United can give Manchester City a run for their money, the treble-chasers will be the odds-on favourite to break their UEFA Champions League duck when they face Inter Milan next weekend.

Meanwhile, the Citizens have reached the FA Cup final by beating Chelsea, Arsenal, Bristol City, Burnley, and Sheffield United. And standing in Manchester City’s way will be Manchester United, who should be determined to stop their noisy neighbours from becoming the second English team to complete the elusive treble.

But the Red Devils have blown hot and cold in the last few weeks, particularly since winning the Carabao Cup. However, they have looked in good touch after getting week-long rests between games lately. Meanwhile, Manchester United clinched 3-1 wins over Everton, Reading, West Ham United and Fulham to set up a semi-final date with Brighton & Hove Albion, who they beat on penalties after a goalless draw.

Manchester City and Manchester United have clashed twice this season, with both teams claiming a win apiece. 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 does not have any new roster issues to deal with ahead of the trip to Wembley. The Manchester City manager should have a full-strength squad at his disposal in the FA Cup final vs Manchester United on Saturday.

Ruben Dias, Jack Grealish, and Kevin De Bruyne should have recovered from their respective knocks. Manuel Akanji is the only player whose fitness Guardiola has been sweating about in the last few days. But the Manchester City manager has confirmed that the Swiss defender all players are fine.

Meanwhile, Guardiola revealed in his pre-match press conference that Stefan Ortega will start on Saturday. And Manchester City will line up in a 3-2-4-1 formation in front of the 30-year-old vs Manchester United. The system will morph into a 4-3-3 based on the game’s phase.

The fit-again Akanji should return to the starting eleven. And the Swiss international will likely join Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake in the back three. Meanwhile, John Stones and Rodri will be the two holding midfielders. Stones will become the right-back in certain scenarios but will primarily look to provide the forward thrust from the middle of the park.

Stones and Rodri’s presence in the midfield will allow the attacking quintet to express themselves in the final third. Erling Haaland will be the central striker, with the quartet behind him creative overloads. And while De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan will be the pull the strings, Bernardo Silva and Grealish will provide a direct threat.

Probable Lineup (3-2-4-1): Ortega; Akanji, Dias, Ake; Stones, Rodri; Bernardo Silva, De Bruyne, Gundogan, Grealish; Haaland

Manchester United

Unlike his counterpart in the Manchester City dugout, Erik ten Hag has new issues hampering his preparations ahead of the trip to Wembley. The Manchester United manager will be bereft of the services of at least five first-team players on Saturday.

Anthony Martial is the latest absentee, with the Frenchman sustaining a hamstring injury last week against Fulham. And Martial will be unavailable to take on Manchester City on Saturday. The 27-year-old has joined Lisandro Martinez (foot), Phil Jones (knee), Marcel Sabitzer (knee), and Donny van de Beek (knee) on the sidelines.

But there is some good news, as Antony might be available for the FA Cup final. The Brazilian international has been recovering from an ankle injury. However, he might shrug off the issue to be in the Manchester United matchday squad vs Manchester City.

Antony will unlikely start on Saturday, with Jadon Sancho taking up the right-wing berth. And Martial’s absence will give Alejandro Garnacho the opportunity to make his mark from the get-go. Meanwhile, Marcus Rashford will spearhead the Manchester United attack vs Manchester City.

Alternatively, Erik ten Hag can use three midfielders to put men behind the ball. But Christian Eriksen might miss out, with Fred starting alongside Casemiro in the double pivot. And Bruno Fernandes will reprise his usual no. 10 role on Saturday.

As for the defensive unit, Raphael Varane and Victor Lindelof have forged a solid central defensive partnership. And the duo will aim to keep Erling Haaland at bay, denying the Norwegian striker any space to exploit. Finally, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw should be the two full-backs, with David de Gea featuring between the sticks.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Lindelof, Shaw; Casemiro, Fred; Sancho, Bruno Fernandes, Garnacho; Rashford

Key Stats

  • Manchester United have won five of their last six FA Cup meetings vs Manchester City, most recently a 3-2 away win in January 2012. The only exception in that run was a semi-final victory for Manchester City vs Manchester United in 2010/11.
  • Saturday will be Manchester City’s 12th FA Cup final, winning six and losing five of the previous 11. They have alternated between losing and winning in their last four, most recently beating Watford 6-0 in 2019. On the other hand, Manchester United will contest their 21st FA Cup final, the joint-most of any side in the history of the competition along with Arsenal. They have won the trophy 12 times, with their eight final defeats the joint-most of any side along with Chelsea and Everton.
  • Having already won the League Cup against Newcastle this season, Manchester United are looking to win both major domestic cup competitions in a single season for the first time. They will be the fifth different club overall to achieve this after Arsenal (1992/93), Liverpool (2000/01 and 2021/22), Chelsea (2006/07) and Manchester City (2018/19).
  • Manchester City are yet to concede a goal in this season’s FA Cup. In the Football League era (since 1888/89), only two teams have won the trophy without conceding a goal – Preston North End in 1889 and Bury in 1903. Meanwhile, they are the highest scorers in this season’s FA Cup (first round onwards) with 17 goals.
  • Since his FA Cup debut for the club in 2019, Riyad Mahrez has scored more goals in the competition proper than any other player (11). He’s scored five so far this season – the last time a Man City player scored more in a single season was in 1933/34 (Fred Tilson, 9).

Player to Watch

Stefan Ortega

Embed from Getty Images

With Pep Guardiola confirming his starting goalkeeper for the FA Cup final, Stefan Ortega will have a point to prove. The 30-year-old has been the backup goalkeeper for Manchester City this season, mostly getting a place in the eleven in cup games.

The FA Cup final will be the highest profile game he has played since joining Manchester City. So the pressure will be on the German shot-stopper to prove his credentials. And a solid showing will vindicate Guardiola’s decision to overlook Ederson Moraes for this game.


Manchester City 2-1 Manchester United

Manchester United have packed a punch after getting a week’s rest this season. So they will take the game to Manchester City, looking to do a repeat from the most recent meeting between the two sides. But basketball fans might have seen the positive effects of a longer resting period for elite players.

Denver Nuggets eased past Miami Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. And with Erling Haaland, Kevin De Bruyne, and others coming into this clash well-rested, Manchester City will have the quality and energy to secure the desired result. The Hard Tackle predicts a keenly-contested affair on Saturday. But Pep Guardiola will continue the momentum towards the treble with a 2-1 win.

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