Preview: Manchester City vs. Sheffield United

Preview: Manchester City vs. Sheffield United

Wembley Stadium plays host to the first of two FA Cup semi-finals when Premier League title hopefuls Manchester City do battle with Championship promotion contenders Sheffield United on Saturday.

The victors of this contest will book their place in the final and set up a showdown with either Brighton & Hove Albion or Manchester United, who face off in the second semi-final on Sunday.

Man City have booked their place in the Champions League semi-finals for the third successive year courtesy of a 4-1 aggregate victory over Bayern Munich, including a 1-1 second-leg draw at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday night.

Erling Braut Haaland made amends for a first-half penalty miss when he slotted home the opening goal just before the hour mark to increase his goal tally for the season to a staggering 48, before Joshua Kimmich levelled the scores on the night with a converted penalty kick seven minutes from time.

Despite a few shaky spells against a fired-up Bayern side in the second leg, the Citizens managed to complete the job and keep their hopes of winning an impressive treble alive, with pivotal FA Cup and Premier League fixtures on the agenda for Pep Guardiola’s side over the next week.

Before preparing for a top-of-the-table showdown with title rivals Arsenal in the Premier League next Wednesday, Man City are tasked with seeing off lower-league opposition in the form of Sheffield United if they wish to end a three-year run of failing to progress from the FA Cup semi-final stage.

Indeed, the Citizens have been beaten by Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool in the last three FA Cup semi-finals, but they will fancy their chances against the Blades on Saturday having won each of their last 21 domestic cup ties against teams from lower divisions, scoring 78 goals and conceding just 11 in the process – a 1-0 FA Cup fourth-round loss to Wigan Athletic in February 2018 was the last time that City tasted defeat against lower-league opposition.

City have progressed past Chelsea, Arsenal, Bristol City and Burnley in the previous four rounds of this season’s FA Cup by an aggregate score of 14-0, including a 6-0 quarter-final victory against the latter at the Etihad Stadium last month, and Guardiola’s men could become the first team since Everton in 1965-66 to reach the FA Cup final without conceding a goal if they manage to keep a clean sheet on Saturday.

Sheffield United are on the cusp of securing promotion from the Championship after claiming a slender 1-0 home win over Bristol City on Tuesday night, courtesy of a second-half strike from Man City loanee James McAtee.

The Blades, who sit second in the second-tier standings, now require just one more victory to confirm their return to the Premier League as they sit seven points clear of third-placed Luton Town, who have played a game more and dropped points at Reading last time out.

Paul Heckingbottom’s men will put Championship duties to one side when they compete in their first FA Cup semi-final for nine years this weekend, with the Blades seeking to pull off an almighty cup upset and become the first lower-division team to beat a top-flight club in the semi-finals since the 1991-92 campaign when Sunderland beat Norwich City 1-0 at Hillsborough.

Sheffield United have seen off Millwall, Wrexham, Tottenham Hotspur and Blackburn Rovers in the previous four rounds of this season’s competition, beating the latter 3-2 in a thrilling quarter-final tie at Bramall Lane in which Man City loanee Tommy Doyle netted a dramatic 90th-minute winner.

The Blades head into Saturday’s contest having lost each of their last five FA Cup semi-finals, most recently a 5-3 defeat against Hull City in 2013-14. Although their chances of reaching their first FA Cup final since 1936 are slim, a run of four victories in their previous four meetings with Man City in the competition provides a glimmer of optimism ahead of their trip to Wembley.

Manchester City FA Cup form:

Manchester City form (all competitions):

Sheffield United FA Cup form:

Sheffield United form (all competitions):

We say: Manchester City 3-0 Sheffield United
Having already cruised to victory over two Championship clubs in the previous two rounds of this year’s FA Cup, Man City will be confident of success against a Sheffield United side who will be regarded as huge underdogs for Saturday’s semi-final.

The Blades require another resilient showing similar to the one that helped keep Tottenham quiet earlier this year, but we believe that the Citizens should have few problems recording a comfortable victory at Wembley to book their place in the final.

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