FA Cup semi-final weekend is here!
Sheffield United will need Man City to have a bad day at the office, while Brighton could surprise the Red Devils and make their first appearance in the final since 1983.
It’s amazing to think that the oldest cup competition in the world has lost some of its prestige over time. The money pouring in from TV rights is a motivating factor for clubs to finish as high up the table as possible and aim for those crucial European spots.
That means more attention is shown towards the Premier League, while clubs see cup competitions as an outlet to grant academy and fringe players the opportunity to feature. This behaviour gives certain clubs the ability to create possible excuses when they’ve been knocked out by an unlikely opponent in the early stages.
Expect the big guns this weekend as everyone plays for an opportunity for a Wembley final.
Manchester City vs Sheffield United
Saturday – 22/04 – 17:45
United requires one win from their four remaining games to secure their passage back to the top-flight of English football. But before that can be achieved, they’ll have a chance to crush some dreamers in the blue half of Manchester.
After overcoming Bayern Munich in their Champions League quarter-final, City is beginning to believe this can be a treble season. It’s not going to be easy, but they’re oozing with confidence and playing exceptional football as they do. The first minor hurdle on that road will be Sheffield on Saturday.
If there’s anything lower than the ‘Underdog’ tag, it should be handed to United (with the utmost respect). City and Haaland are on fire and all we can see is a comfortable victory in normal time. Nathan Ake is ruled out with a hamstring injury. Otherwise, Pep Guardiola will have a fit squad that can reach its first final since winning the cup back in 2019.
This will be a free hit for Paul Heckingbottom and his Blades. Even if they lose, it could still turn out to be an incredible season. But if they want the icing on the cake – a final for the first time since 1973 – they’ll need to play the game of their lives.
But it’s difficult to see City scoring fewer than two goals.
Man City to win UNDER 3.5 GOALS
Brighton vs Manchester United
Sunday – 23/04 – 17:30
This is going to be a cracking encounter. United will look to bounce back from their depressing Europa exit. Brighton will aim to go one step further and reach their first final since 1983.
This was always going to be a crucial week for United. It hasn’t panned out well considering their dismal performance against Sevilla as they crashed out of the Europa League. The opportunity to redeem themselves comes Sunday. But they will need to be at their very best to stop the Seagulls.
No matter what’s being said about Graham Potter, he’s the reason behind Brighton’s rise up the football ranks, and Roberto di Zerbi is doing a tremendous job building on what he inherited. The Seagulls reached this stage in 2019 but lost to Man City in a close game. They’re in a great spot right now and many believe that they could edge United (considering United’s defensive woes).
Both clubs have a busy treatment room, while United will welcome back Bruno Fernandes to the starting line-up. Harry Maguire is suspended, so Luke Shaw could be deployed at centre-back. Danny Welbeck will come in from the outset against his old club in place of Evan Ferguson. Pascal Gross will likely drop in at right-back. The door is open for Julio Enciso to come in for a start after his rocket of a winner against Chelsea.
United will be eager to feature in a possible Manchester Derby Cup final, that could deny City a possible treble. But Brighton have been in sublime form, and this could be their year.
Brighton to win 2-1
DO THE DOUBLE
CITY & UNDER 3.5 GOALS & BRIGHTON 90mins (2-1) @ 14/1
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