FA Cup final finally gets a Manchester derby

There has been a London derby and a Liverpool derby but never a Manchester derby in the final of the most prestigious cup competition in the world, the FA Cup. That changes on Saturday, 3rd June when United face City at Wembley. City have beaten tough opponents like Chelsea and Arsenal to reach the finals whereas United have played all matches at home and beat Brighton and Hove Albion on penalties in semi-finals. United won the League Cup in February and finished 3rd in the League whereas City won the Premier League for 3rd straight year, their 5th in last 6 years and are due to play Inter Milan in UEFA Champions' League finals. United will play with extra motivation to stop City matching their unique feat of winning the Treble in 1999. United had played City in FA Cup semi-finals twice in 1926 and 2011, losing on both occasions. First ever Manchester derby was played in 1st round qualifier of FA Cup on 3rd October, 1891 when Newton Heath beat Ardwick 5-1 at home on North Road. On 7th February 1931 Sir Matt Busby represented City in his only derby appearance to beat United 3-1!

Manchester United has never won the domestic cup double. Lost in the League Cup finals while winning the FA Cup in 1983 and 1994. Only 4 clubs have won the domestic cup double 5 times Arsenal, Liverpool(2), Chelsea, Man City. United chase a record of their own. If United lose it will be their 9th loss in 21 finals, the most by any club in competition's history. While United remain the only club to have stopped Liverpool and Everton winning their treble in 1977 and 1985. Can United do it again? They are clearly the underdogs and missing their key defender Lisandro Martinez through injury. Erik ten Hag has beaten City 2-1 at Old Trafford by having Fred man-mark Kevin de Bruyne and Bruno Fernandes produced a moment of magic to beat the offside trap. 

Manchester United will also miss Anthony Martial who suffered a late injury and casts a huge about his future. Anthony dos Santos is a doubt after picking up an injury in 4-1 win against Chelsea. Pep Guardiola had this to say about the progress United have made under Erik ten Hag "Manchester United are a different team to what we faced at the start of the season. They have improved and so has their quality." United starting XI is likely to be: de Gea(GK), Wan Bissaka, Varane, Lindelof, Shaw, Casemiro, Fred, Fernandes, Eriksen, Sancho, Rashford. City will continue with keeper Ortega who has played in all five FA Cup matches and not conceded a single goal! Guardiola had rested de Bruyne and Grealish in the last match of the season against Brentford which they lost 0-1.

Erling Haaland has already scored a hat-trick against United in his first derby match when City won 6-3. While Marcus Rashford scored 30 goals in all competitions - a first for a United player since Robin van Persie in 2013 but for Erling Haaland to score 52 goals this season is just staggering accomplishment by any standards and worth appreciating. This also highlights the major area that United need to improve in this summer - get a proper No 9. Bruno Fernandes has produced more chances than Kevin de Bruyne this season but with very low conversion rate due to absence of an elite striker. United covet the likes of Victor Osimhen, Harry Kane, Rasmus Hojlund, Goncalo Ramos, Randal-Kolo Muani, Benjamin Sesko. Anthony Martial oft injured scored 9 goals and Wout Weghorst 2 in all competions paints a clear picture of deficiency in forward unit. United need two strikers not just one as Wout Weghorst has struggled to score despite putting in great effort to press. Club also need to clear the legal situation around Mason Greenwood.

1999 Man Utd vs 2023 Man City
It is very difficult to compare teams from two different era's. Latest one's will seem more evolved due to progress in overall development of the game of football globally. Nonetheless the figures of Peter Schmeichel, Dennis Irwin, Jaap Stam, Roy Keane, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs will tower above anyone else from the Premier League. Tactical changes of Pep Guardiola will make John Stones, Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, Kevin de Bruyne, Erling Haaland stand out. While Guardiola has managed great clubs across Europe and won silverware with big budgets and help from sporting directors, Sir Alex Ferguson awakened a giant in United to break monopoly not just in England but also in Scotland with Aberdeen and at the same rekindled the youth setup of Sir Matt Busby to win trophies with kids. Thus Ferguson is clearly way ahead of Spaniard in managerial stakes. By the way both United and City are yet to firm up as clubs to organise an annual Magnall Cup as initially mooted in January, 2020 and Magnall remains the only person to manage both sides of Manchester yet guiding them to success with trophies!

All in all it promises to be a great encounter irrespective of the result. History will definitely be made on the hallow turf of Wembley by sides from Manchester taking the centre-stage in 142nd edition of FA Cup. Manchester United are the only English club to have won the ultimate European Treble while Manchester City are the only English club to have won the domestic treble. After winning their first double in '94 United released a song "Come on you, Reds" with Status Quo and it went on to reach #1 in the official charts. Enjoy! If United can avoid being hit for a six and score momentous goal likes of Wayne Rooney overhead kick, Bruno Fernandes beating offside trap, Micheal Owen winning in injury time, Paul Scholes fantastic header, Roy Keane's diving header, Chris Smalling completing a 2-3 comeback win... in for a treat.

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