Manchester City’s route to the FA Cup final
This will be their 12th domestic cup final
On Saturday afternoon, Wembley will prepare itself for its 142nd FA Cup final, but just the first Manchester Derby final. Pep Guardiola will march his treble chasers down Wembley Way as they seek their second of a possible three trophies this season. Meanwhile, Erik Ten Hag’s Red Devils will aim to stop City in their pursuit and add a second domestic trophy this season to their cabinet.
Road to the Final
Third round: Manchester City 4-0 Chelsea
The route to the final began for Manchester City in the third round, as is always the case for Premier League teams, with a home tie against Chelsea. City sailed through with surprising ease as Chelsea put up little resistance at the Etihad Stadium, just three days after a hard-fought Premier League clash between the sides at Stamford Bridge.
The Citizens convincingly won with a 4-0 result courtesy of an excellent free kick from Riyad Mahrez to open the scoring, before a penalty from Julian Alvarez and a concise tap-in from Phil Foden tripled City’s lead going into halftime. After the break, a Mahrez penalty gave him a brace, resulting in the perfect start to Manchester City’s FA Cup journey.
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Fourth round: Manchester City 1-0 Arsenal
Next up for the Citizens was another home tie against Arsenal, with City only having to play one game away from home during their eventual run to the final. Manchester City edged out a tight and entertaining game that lived up to its pre-match billing as a heavyweight contest.
A tidy finish from defender Nathan Ake, who placed a shot into the bottom corner after good work from Jack Grealish, settled the tie in the 64th minute. Arsenal represented the last of Manchester City’s Premier League opposition on the run to the final.
Fifth round: Bristol City 0-3 Manchester City
An away day to eventual 14th-placed Championship opposition Bristol City represented one of the easier routes into the FA Cup quarterfinals, with City running out 3-0 winners.
Foden struck twice as Manchester City saw off their Championship hosts with little alarm. The England midfielder opened the scoring after seven minutes when he turned home a low Mahrez ball at the back post and made victory certain with a deflected effort after the break. The final goal of the game was an excellent long-range effort from Kevin De Bruyne, which sealed City’s passage into the quarterfinal in superb style.
Quarter-finals: Manchester City 6-0 Burnley
While Manchester City’s Premier League push was gaining momentum, so was their FA Cup journey. Manchester City gave their former captain, Vincent Kompany a hero’s welcome on his return to the Etihad, but showed little mercy against the second-division champions on the field.
The prolific Erling Haaland, who had smashed five past RB Leipzig just days earlier, helped himself to a hat-trick as the Clarets were put to the sword. Julian Alvarez weighed in with a double and Cole Palmer also got on the scoresheet in the rout. The Citizens’ victory over Vincent Kompany’s Burnley represented their highest goal-margin win.
Semi-finals: Manchester City 3-0 Sheffield United
With the eventual Championship winners beaten, it was time for Manchester City to test second-placed Sheffield United, this time on neutral ground at Wembley. Another promotion-challenging Championship side failed to lay a glove on City as Guardiola’s men booked a return to the final for the first time in four years after three successive semi-final defeats.
With the tie level just before halftime, City were awarded a penalty, and from then on there was no looking back. Riyad Mahrez took centre stage by scoring the first FA Cup semi-final hat-trick since 1958 and the first at Wembley. The Blades were made to rue missing a gilt-edged early chance through Iliman Ndiaye as Mahrez grabbed his first from the spot, ran through the defence for a fine solo second, and swept in to complete his treble.
The victory over Sheffield United meant that Manchester City entered the final with a 17-0 aggregate score and will have an opportunity to become the third side to win the competition without conceding a goal, after Preston North End in 1889 and Bury in 1903.
Manchester City go into the final on a run that has seen them lose just once in their final 26 games. However, one could argue, potentially harshly, that Guardiola’s side goes into the game on their patchiest run of this season, with a draw against Brighton and a loss to Brentford leaving them potentially stuttering as they enter their biggest two games of the season. Manchester United will be looking to capitalize on the same monument and sour the Premier League winners’ campaign at the end of the season.