2023 FA Cup Final: City, United Re-enact Old Rivalry At Wembley


BY VICTOR OSOWOCHI – Ahead of this afternoon’s first all-Manchester FA Cup final, Manchester City’s Manager Pep Guardiola has warned that rivals Manchester United’s desperation to preserve their Treble legacy will make them even more dangerous to handle at Wembley as both sides trade tackles for the prestigious trophy.

First played during the 1871–72 season, the FA Cup is the oldest national football competition in the world. No doubt, this is a domestic finale ripe with interesting storylines as City’s modern brand of football threatens to eclipse United who were the original domestic powerhouse.

So, inside the 90,000 seats capacity Wembley Stadium, reputed as “The Home of Football”, and the second-largest stadium in Europe, United will be bidding to complete a domestic cup double and at the same time prevent their so-called ‘noisy neighbours’ from ending that much-cherished status as the only English club in history to win the Treble in a single season.

But having claimed a fifth Premier League title in six years last month, the Cityzens have a golden opportunity to emulate Sir Alex Ferguson’s 1998-99 team by beating United at Wembley and Inter Milan in the Champions League final in Istanbul a week later.

With the FA Cup final back to its traditional 3 pm kick-off for the first time in more than a decade, North London, which hosts the largest stadium in the United Kingdom, therefore presents the perfect setting for the bitter rivals to settle their scores in what the police authorities deem a “high-risk” fixture.

The job of refereeing today’s historic match-up has gone to referee Paul Tierney. The 42-year-old comes from Wigan in Greater Manchester and is understood to be a Wigan Athletic fan. He has been a target for Jürgen Klopp this season, although the Liverpool Manager has subsequently backtracked on highly critical comments about Tierney, and the decision by the Football Association shows they rate the referee highly.

Tierney will be assisted by Neil Davies and Scott Ledger with fellow referee Peter Banks as the fourth official. League Cup final referee David Coote will act as video assistant referee alongside Simon Long.

Both Clubs’ FA Cup Record
This is City’s 12th FA Cup final and they have a mixed record, winning six and losing five of their previous 11 final outings. Since 2011, they have won two and lost one, with their last Cup final being a comprehensive 6-0 win against Watford in 2019.

But for United, they are featuring in their 21st FA Cup final, a record shared with Arsenal. However, no club has lost more times than the eight defeats suffered by United, an unenviable distinction shared with only Chelsea and Everton.

Importantly, if City beat United without conceding a goal, they will become the first team since Bury in 1903 to go through the whole competition without conceding. Preston North End, in 1889, are the only other team to achieve that record

On their way to this final showdown, City beat Chelsea, Arsenal, Bristol City, Burnley, and Sheffield United; while United faced Everton, Reading, West Ham, Fulham, and Brighton.

Can United Stop City’s Treble Run?
Indeed, this will not be the first time that the Old Trafford Landlords have prevented a club from doing the treble before. In 1977, facing Liverpool in the FA Cup final, United stopped their traditional rivals from achieving the treble 22 years before Ferguson’s team did it in style.

Back then, Liverpool had just been crowned League champions and they would go on to win the club’s first European Cup by beating Borussia Monchengladbach in Rome four days after the FA Cup final. But a 2-1 United win at Wembley denied the Reds the distinction of becoming the first English team to do the Treble.

Fast forward to 1985, United did it again by beating League champions Everton in the FA Cup final to deny their opponents a League, FA Cup, and European Cup-Winners’ Cup treble.

But all that is history now! After decades spent playing second fiddle to United, the Cityzens are now the top dogs, and Guardiola has urged his fans to enjoy the moment and behave ahead of a game that poses both security risks and logistical headaches given the enmity between the clubs, national rail strikes and the threat of pitch invasions from Just Stop Oil protesters. – With agencies’ reports

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