The 142nd FA Cup final will see a Manchester derby take center stage for the first time beneath the famous arch of Wembley Stadium as treble-chasing Manchester City locks horns with bitter rivals and EFL Cup winners Manchester United on Saturday afternoon.
While the Citizens are seeking to lift England’s oldest trophy for the seventh time in their history, the Red Devils are hoping to get their hands on the prestigious prize for a 13th time.
- Man City quartet Kevin De Bruyne, Jack Grealish, Ruben Dias and Manuel Akanji are all doubtful after missing the defeat at Brentford due to minor injury or fitness concerns.
- Nathan Ake started against the Bees and played for just over an hour on his return from a hamstring injury, and the Dutch defender is in contention to retain his place on the left side, while John Stones is set to return and take up his hybrid midfield role alongside Rodri.
- Guardiola has a big decision to make over whether to hand the gloves to first-choice shot-stopper Ederson or cup goalkeeper Stefan Ortega, who has started four of City’s five FA Cup matches this term.
- Captain Ilkay Gundogan is set to return in centre-midfield, and Bernardo Silva will likely battle with Stockport-born Phil Foden and semi-final hat-trick hero Mahrez for a spot on the right wing, while goal machine Erling Braut Haaland – who scored a treble in the 6-3 win over United last October – will lead the line and seek to increase his astonishing goal tally of 52 in all competitions.
- Anthony Martial has been ruled out with a hamstring injury and is joined in the treatment room by Lisandro Martinez (foot), Marcel Sabitzer, Donny van de Beek (both knee) and Tom Heaton (ankle).
- However, Antony has a “good opportunity” to recover in time for the final according to Ten Hag, despite being stretchered off in tears with an ankle problem in the win over Chelsea; the Brazilian is unlikely to be thrown straight back into the first XI, though, so Alejandro Garnacho and former Man City youngster Jadon Sancho will most likely occupy the flanks.
- Left-back Luke Shaw is fit to return to the starting lineup after recovering from a minor back issue, while Raphael Varane is set to replace captain Harry Maguire and partner Victor Lindelof in central defence.
- Top scorer Marcus Rashford and midfield lynchpin Casemiro, who were both on the scoresheet in United’s last Wembley outing in the EFL Cup final, are both poised to start, with the former expected to begin as a central striker and the latter set to line up alongside Bruno Fernandes and either Christian Eriksen or Fred in the middle of the pitch.
Manchester City: Ederson; 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
Whether we see an end-to-end classic or a more closely-fought contest remains to be seen, but Guardiola and Ten Hag should have few problems motivating their players for arguably the biggest Manchester derby in history.
One of these teams is guaranteed to lift a second trophy of the season, but we believe that the superiority that Man City possess in all departments, particularly in attack with the presence of Haaland, will come to the fore, with sky blue ribbons to be attached to this year’s FA Cup.
Our prediction is Manchester City 2-1 Manchester United