We look ahead to Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium with our Coventry City vs Manchester United prediction and preview. Can the Sky Blues continue their dream run?

Coventry vs Manchester United Stats: The Quick Hits

  • Of 10,000 match simulations conducted by the Opta supercomputer before Sunday’s semi-final, Manchester United beat Coventry City within 90 minutes in 64.5% of them.
  • Man Utd have progressed from 50 of their last 52 FA Cup ties against teams from a lower division, the exceptions coming against Leeds United in 2010 and Middlesbrough in 2022.
  • Coventry have scored 19 goals in the FA Cup proper this season, more than any other side. The last non-top-flight team to net more in a single campaign was Wrexham in 1977-78 (22).

Match Preview

Coventry City have surely been the story of the FA Cup this season. The Sky Blues have reached the semi-finals for just the second time in their history, doing so with a remarkable triumph over Wolves in the last eight.

Beneath Wembley Stadium’s iconic arch on Sunday, boss Mark Robins will attempt to mastermind another upset against his former club Manchester United, who may need to win the trophy to salvage any pride from a miserable season.

Coventry trailed with 96 minutes and 33 seconds gone at Molineux in the last round, but Ellis Simms levelled before Haji Wright curled in a memorable winner with 99 minutes and 37 seconds on the clock, sending the Championship side to Wembley. That was just reward for a brave performance from Coventry, who created a total of 4.5 expected goals (xG).

wolves 2-3 coventry xg race

The Sky Blues’ only previous semi-final outing saw them beat Leeds United 3-2 in extra-time in April 1987, before downing Tottenham by the same score in a classic final the following month.

Teams from outside the top flight have lost their last six FA Cup semi-finals combined, though, since Cardiff City reached the final in 2008 when they beat fellow Championship side Barnsley.

Coventry were beaten by Luton Town in last season’s Championship play-off final when they last visited Wembley, and their hopes of another top-six finish are hanging by a thread following a run of three defeats in four league games, the latest coming by a 3-0 scoreline at relegation-threatened Birmingham City last week.

However, Robins’ men may just fancy their chances of troubling opponents who have faced 340 shots in all competitions since the turn of the year – more than any other team from England’s top four divisions. Coventry have scored 19 goals in five FA Cup games this season, the most by a non-top-flight team in a single campaign since Wrexham netted 22 times in 1977-78.

Simms has had a major part to play in that respect, netting five times in his last two FA Cup matches after failing to score in any of his first four. That is the most goals scored by a Coventry player in a single FA Cup campaign since Keith Houchen netted five times on their triumphant 1986-87 run.

Simms also has 15 goals in all competitions in 2024, a tally only matched by Wrexham’s Paul Mullin, Blackburn Rovers’ Sammie Szmodics and Chelsea’s Cole Palmer among players from the top four tiers.

With Coventry having no new selection issues, Simms will likely be supported by Wright, Kasey Palmer and Milan van Ewijk, while Callum O’Hare and Josh Eccles are eyeing starts after being benched last weekend.

For United and Erik ten Hag, it looks to be a case of FA Cup or bust, with their hopes of a top-four Premier League finish in tatters amid a four-game winless run (three draws, one loss) that has left them 13 points adrift of Aston Villa and seen them slip below Newcastle United into seventh place.

The Red Devils were perhaps fortunate to escape the Vitality Stadium with a 2-2 draw against Bournemouth on Saturday, with a VAR intervention denying the Cherries a stoppage-time penalty when Willy Kambwala’s foul on Ryan Christie was adjudged to have occurred outside the area.

United will hope a return to cup action provides them with a boost, having not tasted victory since their thrilling extra-time triumph over Liverpool in the last round.

Man Utd v Liverpool FA Cup momentum

Marcus Rashford was on target in that tie as United twice came from behind for a 4-3 win, and he has found the net for them at Wembley on two previous occasions, against Newcastle in last year’s EFL Cup final and versus Tottenham in the Premier League in 2019. However, Rashford has never scored at Wembley in seven previous FA Cup appearances there (four semi-finals, three finals).

Antony – another of United’s quarter-final goalscorers – could be available after missing the Bournemouth game with a knock, but Ten Hag still has plenty of issues to ponder in defence. Centre-backs Raphaël Varane, Lisandro Martínez and Victor Lindelöf are all out, though Jonny Evans could be in contention to partner Harry Maguire.

Making their 32nd appearance in the FA Cup semi-finals, United are looking to reach a record-breaking 22nd final, with the Red Devils currently tied with Arsenal on 21. Last season’s runners-up have not reached back-to-back finals since doing so in 2004 and 2005, while they have not achieved that feat at Wembley since making three straight showpiece games between 1994 and 1996.

Coventry vs Manchester United Head-to-Head

Man Utd have won 13 of their last 15 meetings with Coventry across all competitions (two defeats), though Sunday’s game will be the first between the teams since September 2007.

The Sky Blues came out on top on that occasion, winning an EFL Cup third-round tie 2-0 at Old Trafford. A 19-year-old Evans started alongside Gerard Piqué in the heart of United’s defence.

This will be the first FA Cup meeting between the teams since 1987, when Coventry beat United 1-0 in the fourth round en route to lifting the trophy. Before that, the teams faced off in the fourth round in 1985, United winning 2-1 and going on to win the competition.

The Red Devils have progressed from 50 of their last 52 FA Cup ties against teams from a lower division, the exceptions being a 1-0 defeat to Leeds in January 2010 and a penalty-shootout loss to Middlesbrough in February 2022, both at Old Trafford.

Recent Form

United have only won one of their last seven games within 90 minutes (four draws, two defeats) across all competitions, beating Everton 2-0 in the Premier League last month.

Coventry, meanwhile, have lost three of their last four games after winning each of their previous four – a run that included their remarkable triumph at Wolves.

They are bidding to eliminate multiple top-flight clubs from the FA Cup in a single season for the first time since 1997-98 (three teams), when they themselves were a Premier League outfit.

Opta Power Rankings

The Opta Power Rankings are a global team ranking system that assigns an ability score to over 13,000 domestic football teams on a scale between zero and 100, where zero is the worst-ranked team in the world and 100 is the best team in the world.

Ahead of kick-off on Sunday, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides.

Coventry vs Manchester United Prediction

The Opta supercomputer is siding firmly with the Premier League giants ahead of this semi-final tussle. Across 10,000 match simulations conducted before kick-off, United were victorious in 64.5%.

Coventry are given a 16.2% chance of pulling off a famous upset and triumphing in 90 minutes, while they held out for a draw in 19.3% of simulations, taking the tie to extra-time and potentially penalties.

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