Manchester City will turn their focus to local issues after holding the German champions to a 1-1 draw in midweek to clinch a 4-1 overall triumph over Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals. Impressively, they defeated Burnley 6-0 in the previous round to go to the FA Cup (FAC) semi-finals for a fifth consecutive season.
In the same way that their neighbors Manchester United were at this time in 1999, City will be daydreaming of their own true “treble” as they close in on Arsenal at the top of the Premier League (PL). With no losses in 15 games, including eleven occasions where City scored three or more goals, it feels like this could be their year at last.
City’s performance at the ‘new’ Wembley Stadium (W12, D3, L8) also bears mention. Nevertheless, those who want Pep Guardiola’s team to lose can point to a return of four losses in their previous five visits. In FAC head to head matches dating back to 1906, City is also winless against Sheffield United (D2, L4), albeit the only time they’ve faced off in this competition since 1939 was a 2-1 loss in January 2008.
After a nine years absence, the Blades themselves are back at Wembley as FAC semi finalists. However, the Bramall Lane team’s current cup run is rich in late flourishes, with each of their past four FAC encounters seeing them net inside the closing 20 minutes of play. Back in 2014, a promising 2-1 half time lead deteriorated into a heartbreaking 5-3 defeat against eventual runners up Hull City.
This includes a 1-0 victory over Premier League team Tottenham, and despite the fact that they don’t have a home field advantage, Paul Heckingbottom’s team is in excellent shape overall. With a 1-0 victory over Bristol City throughout the week, they not only moved into second position in the Championship but also made it six wins in a row.
Watch out for Jack Grealish, who scored against Liverpool in the FAC semi finals last year. His six most recent crucial goals at the club level have all occurred during victories by several goals, despite the fact that he was on the losing side that particular day. Iliman Ndiaye, a midfielder for Sheffield United, has contributed to a goal in each of the Blades’ last three victories (G2, A1). This shows that he has the ability to make a significant difference.
Nathan Ake, a defender for Man City, is questionable after leaving the match against Bayern Munich with a hamstring injury, but the Dutchman believes the injury is not too bad.
After recovering from appendix surgery, Phil Foden is available for selection for the Citizens, but it’s unclear whether the attacker will be ready to start on Saturday. In that case, Riyad Mahrez and Jack Grealish might play the wide areas right away.
Guardiola may change up his starting lineup after admitting that his team is exhausted in midweek, if Ake is ruled unfit, Aymeric Laporte is anticipated to start in defense.
In addition to competing for the starting position, Kyle Walker, Rico Lewis, Kalvin Phillips, and Julian Alvarez, cup goalkeeper Stefan Ortega is anticipated to start in place of first choice shot stopper Ederson.
The midfielders McAtee and Doyle from Sheffield United are unable to compete against their parent club at Wembley because they are ineligible.
Wes Foderingham is available for selection after serving a two matches suspension and might replace Adam Davies in goal if the Blades lose Enda Stevens, Rhys Norrington-Davies, Ben Osborn, Rhian Brewster, and Jack O’Connell due to injury.
Oliver Norwood will likely start in center-midfield alongside Sander Berge and John Fleck in Doyle and McAtee’s absences, while experienced striker Billy Sharp will challenge Oli McBurnie for a spot up front alongside Iliman Ndiaye.
Manchester City possible starting lineup
Ortega, Stones, Dias, Laporte, Lewis, Rodri, Mahrez, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Grealish and Haaland.
Sheffield United possible starting lineup
Foderingham, Ahmedhodzic, Egan, Robinson, Baldock, Berge, Norwood, Fleck, Lowe, McBurnie and Ndiaye.
Our prediction is Manchester City 3-0 Sheffield United
Man City will be sure of winning against a Sheffield United team that will be viewed as a massive underdog for Saturday’s FA Cup semi final because they already easily defeated two Championship clubs in the previous two rounds of this year’s FA Cup.
The Blades need a similar display of tenacity to the one that kept Tottenham at bay earlier this year, but we think the Citizens should have little trouble securing a convincing victory at Wembley to secure their spot in the final.