Can Pep Guardiola’s men seal a double, and could the FA Cup final decide Erik ten Hag’s future with the Red Devils? We look ahead to Saturday’s showpiece with our Manchester City vs Manchester United prediction and preview.

Manchester City vs Manchester United Stats: The Quick Hits

  • Manchester City are the overwhelming favourites for FA Cup glory, winning 68% of the Opta supercomputer’s pre-match simulations against Manchester United.
  • City could beat their neighbours three times in the same campaign for the first time since 1969-70, after their league double over the Red Devils this term.
  • Man Utd have lost six of their last seven meetings with Man City in all competitions (W1), including each of the last three.

Match Preview

Condemned to the shadows of Manchester City in recent years, Manchester United will be praying for a statement response when they meet their fierce rivals in the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

Pep Guardiola’s side secured a record-breaking fourth straight Premier League title on Sunday following their 3-1 victory over West Ham to pip Arsenal to top-flight glory. Man City became the first English side to go four in a row in England’s top flight competition, with this their chance to grasp another double under their Catalan mastermind.

It is an entirely different story for Man Utd, whose manager Erik ten Hag is reportedly under pressure to produce a battling performance – at the very least – at the end of a disappointing campaign in which they finished eighth in the Premier League table.

Indeed, after their underwhelming conclusion in league competition, Man Utd are the lowest-ranked side to play in the FA Cup showpiece since Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-1 in 2020. There have been six previous occasions of a side finishing eighth or lower facing that season’s champions in the final – Aston Villa (10th) beat Manchester United 2-1 in 1957, but since then such sides have lost all five finals by an aggregate score of 15-0.

Yet, owing to the Red Devils’ storied history in this competition, Ten Hag’s team will be looking to win the FA Cup for the 13th time; only Arsenal (14) have ever won more. Meanwhile, defending champions City are aiming to win this trophy for the eighth time and for the first time ever in consecutive years.

More silverware for Guardiola’s title-winning machine appears likely, considering their neighbours have failed to win the trophy in four of their last five final appearances. The exception came in 2016 against Crystal Palace under Louis van Gaal (2-1).

Another trophy celebration here would mark City’s third league and FA Cup double, a feat only previously achieved by Man Utd (1993-94, 1995-96 and 1998-99) and Arsenal (1970-71, 1997-98 and 2001-02). City did so in 2018-19 and 2022-23, and thus could become the first team ever to do so in consecutive campaigns.

The chances of further record-breaking success appear likely given Ten Hag’s side have already lost 19 games and conceded 84 goals in all competitions this season. They last lost 20 in a campaign in 1973-74 (22) and last conceded more than 84 in 1963-64 (89).

That underwhelming record will hardly be inspiring optimism on the red side of Manchester when they face City’s wealth of attacking riches, including Erling Haaland and Phil Foden. The latter’s two goals powered Guardiola’s team to the Premier League title against West Ham last time out.

Including that eye-catching brace against the Hammers, Foden has been involved in 10 goals in his last nine appearances in all competitions, scoring nine and assisting one. He’s also netted six times in his last five games against United, while only against Brighton (eight) has he scored more career goals than his six against the Red Devils.

Foden won’t be the only City star to keep an eye on, with Haaland fresh from finishing as top scorer in the Premier League for a second consecutive season. The Norwegian also leads Premier League competitors with 38 goals across all competitions this term and could become the first such player to score 40+ in consecutive campaigns, after netting 52 last season.

Haaland has also been involved in nine goals in five appearances against United in all competitions (six goals, three assists), more than he has against any other side as a City player.

Further back in Guardiola’s fearsome lineup, Kevin De Bruyne has assisted three goals in FA Cup finals, setting up Gabriel Jesus in 2019 and both of Ilkay Gündogan’s strikes last season against United. No player on record, since 1962, has provided more assists in FA Cup finals than the Belgian maestro (Olivier Giroud also has three).

As for City’s team news, Stefan Ortega – the substitute star in the recent crucial win at Tottenham – will be sure to start in goal with Ederson out injured due to a minor fracture in his right eye socket. Guardiola’s first-choice goalkeeper should be the only absentee from his usual squad, though Ortega likely would have played anyway having featured in last year’s final as well as every FA Cup round in 2023-24.

Ten Hag will hope to have the returning Harry Maguire and Anthony Martial available for Saturday’s kick-off, with Victor Lindelöf also facing a late fitness test due to a thigh issue. Luke Shaw, Mason Mount and Tyrell Malacia are the only others out injured as Man Utd prepare for the toughest test in the English capital.

Manchester City vs Manchester United Head-to-Head

This match is a repeat of last year’s final, where City beat United 2-1 to complete the second part of their league, FA Cup and Champions League treble. Gündogan, now of Barcelona, scored a decisive double as Bruno Fernandes cancelled the German’s quickfire opener with a first-half penalty.

Man City v Man Utd 22-23 FA Cup final stats

Guardiola’s team also won both Premier League meetings against their city rivals this season, beating them 3-0 at Old Trafford and 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium. The last time they beat their neighbours three times in the same campaign was in 1969-70.

Looking further back paints a grim picture for Ten Hag, whose team have lost six of their last seven meetings with Manchester City in all competitions (W1), including each of the last three in a row. United last lost four consecutively against them between 2013 and 2014.

Ten Hag may take confidence from the fact United have won five of their last seven FA Cup games against Man City. However, even then, both defeats in that run have come in games at Wembley – in the 2011 semi-final and 2023 showpiece.

With Guardiola and Ten Hag meeting in that final of this competition last year, this is the first time two Premier League managers have gone head-to-head in more than one FA Cup final (excluding replays).

Recent Form

As has become the norm for Guardiola’s relentless side during the title run-in, City are unbeaten in their last 35 matches across all competitions (W29 D6). Though this run includes their Champions League quarter-final exit to Real Madrid, that game counts on record as a draw as the game went to extra-time and penalties.

That streak is the second-longest run by a top-flight club in English football history, after Nottingham Forest’s run of 40 in 1978.

City have also won each of their last 11 matches in the FA Cup; excluding byes and void games, there have only been two longer winning runs in the competition’s history – Blackburn Rovers (20 between 1883 and 1886) and Chelsea (13 between 2009 and 2011).

Man Utd, meanwhile, beat Liverpool 4-3 in the FA Cup quarter-finals and defeated Coventry City on penalties after a 3-3 draw in the semis to reach this stage. The Red Devils had only conceded 3+ goals in two of their previous 111 matches in the competition, while they’ve never done so in three consecutive games.

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 Saturday, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides.

Manchester City vs Manchester United Prediction

City have already beaten Man Utd twice this season and the Opta supercomputer ranks a third victory for Guardiola’s side at 68% from 10,000 pre-match simulations.

A draw would, at the very least, send this clash to extra-time – and potentially penalties – with that perhaps Ten Hag’s best hope in 17.7% of data-led sims.

Yet the Red Devils will hold hopes of an unlikely surprise at Wembley, with their chances of victory in 90 minutes forecast in 14.4% of Opta’s number-crunching predictions.

Man City v Man Utd FA Cup final prediction

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