The curtains have been drawn on the 22/23 Premier League season and now all eyes will be on the FA Cup final which is set to be played on the 3rd of June.
The two Manchester teams will go head-to-head at Wembley next week and for both sides, this one will be a very significant match.
City have already won the Premier League and they are also in the Champions League final so if they can win the FA Cup final then Pep Guardiola’s side will have the chance to secure a treble this season.
For Manchester United, beating their local rivals will mean they can win two trophies this season and that will be particularly meaningful because Erik ten Hag’s side has successfully gotten back into the Champions League by finishing third on the EPL table.
As the two teams begin their preparations for Wembley, we take a look at three key battles which will determine the outcome of the FA Cup final:
Haaland against Man United’s central defenders:
This one is obviously a no-brainer because Erling Haaland has netted 52 goals this season and if he is in song next weekend, then Manchester United could face a humiliation.
To make matters worse, Erik ten Hag is without Lisandro Martinez which means Lindelof and Varane will pair up in central defence. Lindelof has done a good job so far but both these defenders lack pace and that could be the undoing for Man United. If these two can maintain their cool and keep Haaland quiet then United will have a great chance of winning the FA Cup.
Casemiro vs Kevin de Bruyne:
Casemiro has been a key reason for United’s turnaround this season but the Brazilian international has not been at his best when facing the bigger sides.
De Bruyne has provided 28 assists across all competitions this season and Casemiro will have to work his socks off to keep the playmaker in check. Obviously, the former Madrid man has tons of experience of playing in such big games but he is not the paciest defensive midfielder around which means Eriksen and/or Fred will have to constantly help him out.
Rashford/Garnacho vs Kyle Walker:
Either Marcus Rashford or Garnacho will play on the left wing in the FA Cup final and because both of them are blessed with tremendous pace, Pep Guardiola will probably rely on Kyle Walker to marshal that side of defence.
Rashford is the top goal-scorer for Manchester United this season while Garnacho is the bright young winger who fears no one. The last time these two sides met, United won that match 2-1 and it was these two players who had teamed up to score the winning goal for Ten Hag’s team.
It is more likely that Rashford will start on the left-hand side in the FA Cup final with Garnacho coming on as a sub but this is going to be double trouble for Kyle Walker because the last thing he will want is for a 18-year-old running at him in the final quarter of the match.
In conclusion, Manchester United are definitely the underdogs heading into Wembley but the FA Cup trophy will be a great way for them to sign off and at the same time, they will be able to squander their rival’s prospects of winning a treble.
Manchester City should win this one easily but Pep will also have one eye on the Champions League final and this could very well affect the outcome of the FA Cup final.