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FA Cup Semi Final Preview: Manchester City v Manchester United

prematchManchester will probably look like a ghost city on Saturday afternoon as local rivals Manchester City and Manchester United clash in the FA Cup Semi Final… at Wembley. The United fans will be making their ninth trip to Wembley since the stadium re-opened in 2007, while City supporters will be discovering the renovated venue.


The two clubs have already met twice so far this season in the English Premier League. The first meeting at Eastlands in November was a soporific affair, ending in an equally unexciting 0-0 full time score, while the match at Old Trafford was won by the hosts, courtesy of a Wayne Rooney overhead volley that sealed a 2-1 victory.


Team form

Manchester United appear to be hitting form at a crucial stage of the season and their players will be carrying the momentum collected by seven consecutive wins in all competitions. Several players in the United team already have Champions League, Premier League and League Cup medals, but the FA Cup is a trophy which has eluded the red devils in recent years, and as such securing a place for the final remains a big target for the players. A win in the semi final would also ensure that Manchester United’s treble dream remain unscathed. 


Wayne Rooney and Jonny Evans will both be unavailable for the match as they purge domestic suspensions. Owen Hargreaves and Anders Lindegaard are out on long-term injuries while Darren Fletcher has only recently resumed training after suffering from a mysterious virus. Rafael is back in training too and is expected to be fit, and Rio Ferdinand has claimed that he will have recovered from a bruise that had him limping against Chelsea in the Champions League Quarter Finals on Tuesday.


Manchester City will attempt to recover from a shock 3-0 defeat at Anfield on Monday, during which the tensions in the Citizens’ squad became apparent again when James Milner showed his discontent at being substituted.


With the exception of Carlos Tevez who will be unavailable because of a torn hamstring and Jerome Boateng who is suffering from a knee injury, Man City manager Roberto Mancini has a full squad to choose from. Micah Richards resumed training on Monday and is expected to be fit enough to feature for at least a part of the match.


Probable Lineups

Sir Alex, who will once again be in the stands as he continues to serve his 5-match touchline ban, will probably have his team line up in a 4-5-1 formation. Van der Sar is expected to be the man in goal for the red devils, while Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra are almost certain to feature at their usual positions. Rio Ferdinand might be rested, in which case Chris Smalling will deputise as central back and either Rafael or O’Shea will play at right back. Valencia and Nani are likely to start on the wings, specially with the Equatorian only playing a few minutes in midweek. Carrick and Scholes will most possibly line up in central midfield and Ferguson will have to choose one from Anderson, Park and Giggs to consolidate the midfield and support Dimitar Berbatov in attack.


Man City are likely to start with a 4-3-3 formation with Joe Hart being almost a certainty between the sticks. Vincent Kompany and Joleon Lescott are expected to hold their place in central defence while Kolarov will probably start as left back and either Micah Richards or Dedryck Boyata will fill the right back slot. De Jong will most likely play as a defensive midfielder just behind Barry and Toure. David Silva and Adam Johnson will possibly feature on the wings and support either Balotelli or Dzeko.


Players to Watch

Man City player Mario Balotelli is capable of the best and the worst, and as such he remains an eternal threat. David Silva also seems to have adapted well now and is capable of making the difference with his technical ability and good vision.


Points to Remember

City's ball came out of the bowl first when the draw was made, and so they are the "home" team for the semi-final. As a result, United fans have been allocated the East End, normally reserved for away fans when England are in residence, and will probably wear black shorts rather than their usual white.


The winners of this semi-final tie will play against either Bolton Wanderers or Stoke City in the FA Cup final at Wembley on 14 May 2011.

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