Predicted XI: [4-2-3-1] Rashford tasked to lead the line against City? Fernandes, Casemiro & Eriksen seeking to deliver for United?

Antony & Weghorst to get an opportunity to push United towards a victory?

Manchester United take on Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on Saturday afternoon in a Manchester derby – the first ever – to contest the Emirates FA Cup. It is going to be a massive match for United, who have been the underdogs against City this season – especially after the 6-3 defeat earlier in the season. However, United did manage to get one over City, beating them 2-1 in the second derby of the season – which was a good result.

City are on a treble this season, which United achieved in the 1998/99 season – the first English club to ever achieve that feat lifting the Premier League, FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League. City lifted the Premier League title last month by knocking Arsenal off the top and pushing to get the job done. United ended up finishing third in the Premier League with a game to spare, earning UEFA Champions League football next season – after a season away.

Erik ten Hag has done well this season, ensuring that United have started to ensure they are not defeated many times at home, needing to better his sides away form next season. United lost two matches at Old Trafford the season – once in the Premier League and once in the UEFA Europa League. Nine matches were lost away from home – eight in the Premier League and one in the UEFA Europa League. It has not been a bad season to be fair.

Predicted Manchester United Starting XI – 4-2-3-1

De Gea;

Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Lindelof, Shaw;

Casemiro, Eriksen;

Sancho, Fernandes, Garnacho;


Goalkeeper: De Gea

David De Gea has done well for Manchester United this season. He won the Premier League Golden Glove having kept 17 clean sheets over the course of the season and in some matches, was the reason that United were not beaten based on his ability to block shots. It is ons of his beat attributes at the club even if he is lacking in other areas. De Gea has been a good goalkeeper for United over the last 12 years and he’s made his mark at the club.

De Gea has two goalkeepers who could have challenged him this season in Jack Butland and Tom Heaton. Heaton has not been involved recently after suffering an ankle injury and Butland has not yet made his debut for the club. It looks like he could be leaving United after the FA Cup final not having played for the club during his spell at the club. That is a shame as it could have been good for him this season to get some matches under his belt.

De Gea could sign new deal to remain at United next season, but the reports regarding that have seemed to slow with the contract needing to be approved by the hierarchy at the Old Trafford club. There are reports suggesting that United will be seeking to bring in a new goalkeeper too, which some targets already having been scouted during the course of the season – which shows that Ten Hag has got United prepared to make the changes early – which is good.

Defenders: Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Lindelof, Shaw

United’s defence has done well this season, especially after both Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez were injured in the 3-0 defeat to Sevilla in the UEFA Europa League. Despite it looking like a possibility that United’s season could become unravelled, they help firm and dug deep to get the job done. Ten Hag will have been part of that process to give his team the belief that they needed to reach third place in the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka has been one of the stand out players in the defence recently as he has risen in stature and proven himself to Ten Hag, which could keep him at the club past the summer, which would be good for him and United. Luke Shaw has also done well this season, proving himself to be a talented left-back and a solid fitting to United’s defence. Both of these players should be starting against City in their respective favoured roles – this is imperative for United.

In the centre of the defence, I think Raphael Varane and Victor Lindelof should be paired together once again. I had thought about Shaw playing in the centre of the defence, which could happen, but I feel he would be better for United in the left-back role. Lindelof has been in good form recently and seems settled at the club. Varane has come back at the right time and should help United in the defensive area to try and keep City at bay – which could be good for him.

Midfield: Casemiro, Eriksen

United’s midfield have largely been positive this season. Casemiro has been a great signing for the club – a player who came to challenge himself and he has done that. His red cards and suspensions do not define him – especially when other players have done similar and not been carded or banned for it. But that will have to start to change. His seven goals and six assists have been great for United, which has helped them get to where they have.

Christian Eriksen has also played his part this season. At a stage it looked like he would be out for much of the second half of the season but he returned for the club at the right time. His two goals and ten assists have helped United so much and also showed his ability at the club, which was great to see after a turbulent few years for him following his cardiac arrest during Euro 2020 in the summer of 2021. He literally is the resurrection.

Both of these players should be starting against City as I feel they are the best in these positions. However, fatigue will play a part in this match – especially after a long and tough season so changes will need to be made. Fred and Scott McTominay seem to be the most likely to come in at some point – both of whom could be playing their last match for United – should they get onto the pitch. It would seem that next season new faces will be in the first team.

Attacking Midfield: Sancho, Fernandes, Garnacho

This is the area where the majority of United’s goals have come from this season, especially with Marcus Rashford playing in this area. However, with the injury to Anthony Martial, again, it would seem that the England forward will be leading the line for United. Jadon Sancho needs to show something against his former club to be worthy of a place in the squad next season.His seven goals and three assists have been good but he needs to be doing more.

Bruno Fernandes has been a revelation at United. Granted, frustration and poor form has visited him this season, but that passes and there have been some great moments from him. Those that criticise him need their heads checked, especially when they seem to rate that lazy former player who likes a free transfer. 13 goals and 13 assists makes it a good season for the Portuguese midfielder and he will be seeking to captain his side to victory against City at Wembley.

Alejandro Garnacho has been a great talent thin season – his breakthrough season at the club. A £100,000 signing from Atletico Madrid a few years back seems to have been a masterstroke of a transfer. He could be worth a hell of a lost more now, especially after he signed a new contract until 2028. He has five goals and four assists this season, which is good for him at his age and stage of development. In a season or two he is going to be a proper baller.

Forward: Rashford

Marcus Rashford is the clubs top scorer this season and also won the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year and Player’s Player of the Year awards in the recent club ceremony. He deserves this as it was his best season by far at the club. 30 goals scored and already winning the Carabao Cup and helping United finish third in the Premier League and reaching the UEFA Champions League next season. He could end the season with a cup double – lifting the Emirates FA Cup.

Rashford has been criticised by some this season for not stepping up, but that is exactly what he has done – stepped up. That can be sen by the number of goals he has scored. Yes he’s being the likes of Erling Haaland and Harry Kane – who both have more goals than him in all competitions, but with 17 goals in the Premier League alone, it shows that he has a lot to give the club and will want to remain to try and get United firing on all cylinders again.

Rashford will want to be doing all he can to beat City in this match as the reward for doing so will achieve a cup double for United this season and stop City from doing a double on the way to what could become a treble – something that only United have achieved in England under the leadership of Sir Alex Ferguson in the 1998/99 season. United should be doing all they can to stop City, because this is their chance. With Ederson out, it could just happen!!!

Substitutes: Butland; Maguire, Malacia, Dalot; Fred, Pellistri, McTominay; Antony, Weghorst

United will have nine substitutes on the bench at Wembley in the Emirates FA Cup final. Five of those can be used throughout the match. Ten Hag will have a headache sorting out his team and his tactics to face City in what will be the biggest game of the season for both clubs. United will want to lift the FA Cup for the thirteenth time and City would like to achieve a double on the way to a possible treble. Jack Butland could be the only goalkeeper on the bench.

In the defence, Harry Maguire, who could be making his last appearance for United, Tyrell Malacia and Diogo Dalot, who just signed a new long-term contract at the club should all be available. There will need to be some defensive changes against a team as potent in attack as City. In the midfield, Fred, Facundo Pellistri and Scott McTominay could all be available. United will need at least one midfield chance with the energy of Casemiro and Eriksen being drained.

In the attacking area, United do not have too many options. Antony could be back in the squad to face City after his recent injury against Chelsea, which would be good for both the Brazilian and United. The other attacking player will be Wout Weghorst, who will be playing his last game for United. Whilst it may not be ideal, United will need to bring him on because he’s a hard working player and a likeable guy – and he could fine the back of the net for United.

Written by John Walker

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About editor 2136 Articles
I support Manchester United, the greatest English football team to have ever existed. Bruno Fernandes is the latest in a long line of players with great ability to play for the club. I idolised Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Eric Cantona growing up.