The first of Wembley’s show piece fixtures of the spring takes place on Saturday as Manchester City take on Championship high flyers Sheffield United in an FA Cup semifinal matchup. These two sides are second in their respective leagues but the gap between them seems more than just 20 spots in the English football pyramid, all the more so because Sheffield United will be unable to name two of their star players, loanees from City.
Pep Guardiola has only won one FA Cup since arriving in England while City themselves only have two wins to their name since 1969. That is nothing compared to the Blades, who won the last of their four FA Cups 98 years ago. A second tier club has not won this trophy since 1980. It would be utterly remarkable if that changed this year. Here is how you can watch the match and what you need to know:
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- Date: Saturday, April 22 | Time: 11:45 a.m. ET
- Location: Wembley Stadium, London
- Live stream: ESPN+
- Odds: Manchester City -800; Draw +675; Sheffield United +1600 (via Caesars Sportsbook)
Manchester City: As Guardiola bids to match Manchester United’s Treble-winning side of 1999, he will have to make some tough calls in terms of selection. Wednesday will bring with it a clash against Premier League leaders Arsenal that City can ill afford to lose; looming large in the distance are Real Madrid in the Champions League. To what extent does that make rotation necessary, particularly with the defense likely to be short on numbers after Nathan Ake’s hamstring injury against Bayern Munich?
“In previous seasons, I have rotated a lot and it was not good,” said Guardiola. “I have to think about it, I have many doubts about the line-up tomorrow.”
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Sheffield United: Paul Heckingbottom’s task would be hard enough if his side were at full strength. Tommy Doyle and James McAtee have made a combined 35 starts in the Championship this season, scoring 11 goals, and the former scored the winner against Blackburn Rovers in the last round. However they are both on loan from Manchester City and as such are ineligible to play against their parent club.
“We’d have loved it if they could have played because we loan them to get experience,” said Guardiola. “What is better experience than an FA Cup semi-final against a Premier League team? That would be incredible for the development. But rules are rules.”
Despite being without two valuable players, Heckingbottom has hope of a famous Wembley day. “There’s probably no-one else on the planet thinking we’ll be in the final, but that’s not to say we can’t do it,” he said.
Even a weakened City should have more than enough in the tank to get the job done against the Blades, though you can expect them to ease off when the game is won. PICK: Manchester City 3, Sheffield United 0
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Publish Date:2023-04-22 07:20:33