Manchester Derby Cup Final Preview

For the second year in a row, the FA Cup final will be contested between the two Manchester giants. These two teams could not have had more contrasting seasons however as City continued to build on their success but United had one of the worst seasons on record, a huge disappointment after the relative success of last year.

This is only the second time since 1885 that the same two sides have contested consecutive FA Cup finals. Last season this match was the second leg of Manchester City’s eventual treble as they went on to win the CL final too, but this season it will be the last game for both clubs.

In last season’s showpiece event, Manchester City took the lead inside 13 seconds and went on to win the match without too much bother, despite a United equaliser from the penalty spot. It fell to Ilkay Gundogan to get the winning goal last season, a player who has since moved on to Barcelona. It was always going to be almost impossible to live up to the treble winning heights of last season for Pep Guardiola’s team, but they managed to defend their league title yet again this season and set another record in the process. This is the first time any team has won the PL four times in a row and a win in the cup will allow them to set another record as they would be the first team to ever win consecutive domestic doubles. Manchester City will go into this as understandable favourites given the season they have had so far and they are unbeaten in 90 minutes since mid December. A brave person will bet against Manchester City lifting their eighth FA Cup title. Pep Guardiola has an enviable record against Manchester United, winning fifteen times overall.

Man Utd – what to expect

Manchester United are one of only two teams, Arsenal being the other, that have won the FA Cup more times than City. Their total of twelve wins puts them second on the list, two behind the London team. It has been a pretty horrendous season for the Red Devils as they have battled injuries, poor form and disharmony in the squad. Many feel that even if United win the FA Cup, it won’t be enough to save manager Erik ten Hag’s job. The Dutchman, however, is confident of his position and certainly does have some excuses for the poor season, but an eighth place finish with possibly no silverware is a terrible season for one of England’s most successful teams. The fact that the club is now under partial new ownership means that a number of people have already been moved on and others brought in so the thinking is that he will be next to be shown the door, although there appears to be a lack of credible alternatives. For now though, all focus is on this one match as United attempt to salvage something from the season. A win in this final will also give them a route into European football next season as their eighth place league finish means they are out of all European competitions. Manchester United are known to have a strong link and affinity with the FA Cup, dominating it for many years but they have only won it once since 2004 and they have lost four of the last five finals that they have appeared in. Their calamitous performance in the semi-final against Championship side Coventry is also something of concern.

Man City – what to expect

The only blip in form for Manchester City has been their elimination from the CL against Real Madrid, other than that they have been flawless over recent months. United, on the other hand, have only won two of their last five matches, albeit the last two, against Brighton and Newcastle. City beat United on both occasions in the league this season by an aggregate of 6-1 and have seven wins from the last ten meetings.

The odds firmly favour a win for City, currently priced at 1.33 to win in regular time. Goals are also expected, with the over 2.5 currently at 1.45, not a surprise given the standard of Manchester United’s defending. Cup finals are often close matches but it is unlikely that this match will end as a 0-0. Both teams to score at 1.78 is a decent option and picking out the right goalscorer is always appealing with Phil Foden a man in blistering form for City and Bruno Fernandes generally being the man for the big occasions for United. 

The end of season showpiece cup final is always something fans look forward to and this match will be no different. The added spice of rivalry between City and United only adds to the occasion and everyone associated with the Red Devils will be desperate to end the season on some sort of a positive note and to halt the City juggernaut from adding yet another trophy to their collection. Whilst unlikely, a surprise result in a one-off match such as this is certainly possible but whatever happens, we can be guaranteed some excitement and drama as well end the English football season in style. 

Odds might have changed since the writing and publication of this article.

Last updated: 24.05.2024