Manchester United will lock horns with Crystal Palace on Saturday in the Emirates FA Cup Final. In what will be arguably both sides’ most important match of the season, it is also a rerun of the 1990 FA Cup Final, which intriguingly was Sir Alex Ferguson’s first trophy with United.
The Eagles have never won the competition, and their best achievement has been finalists on two occasions; incidentally both of which came against their Saturday’s opponents. The Red Devils meanwhile, with a win could land their 12th title, becoming the most successful club alongside Arsenal in the oldest association football competition.
FA Cup Final Team News
Palace boss Alan Pardew will have the luxury of selecting his matchday squad from a full fit roster, apart from the injured Joe Ledley, who broke his leg in his sides’ win over Stoke. Pardew also confirmed that Bakary Sako is back in training, while Wilfried Zaha is also likely to shrug off his hamstring injury to be in contention to start against his former side.
Plagued by injuries throughout the season, Louis van Gaal won’t be able to field his strongest eleven even in this season’s last game, which could also be the Dutchman’s last. The Red Devils have been boosted by the return of Morgan Schneiderlin, Marcos Rojo and Matteo Darmian.
Luke Shaw and Bastian Schweinsteiger remain long-term injuries, although the former was back in full training today for the first time in almost seven months, giving a hope for next season. Marouane Fellaini has served his 3 game ban, and returns to the fray.
FA Cup Final: Key Players
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
Only Juan Mata from the current squad has won the FA Cup, which was with Chelsea in 2012. Captain Wayne Rooney, who has been at the club for more than a decade, does not have a single FA Cup medal to show for, with the club having won the competition last in 2004. He will have to be United’s key player if he has to lift his first FA Cup.
The former Everton man will start in a midfield role, where he has reinvigorated his side with some supreme performances, with the man of the match performance against Bournemouth on Tuesday being the latest.
Anthony Martial (Manchester United)
United’s £36 million gamble already seems a bargain, with Anthony Martial scoring goals, and scoring when they matter. The Frenchman’s efficiency in front of goal, albeit the position in which he as deployed has rescued United on a number of occasions.
It was the 20-year-old’s stoppage time goal against Everton which propelled van Gaal’s side into their first final in almost a decade. A true match winner.
Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)
When Manchester United signed Zaha for £15million in 2013, he was touted as the next big thing at Old Trafford. Sir Alex Ferguson’s last signing, Zaha was expected to bring in a fresh breath of air down the United wings; something which has represented the Red Devils’ archetypal style of play over the decades.
But the early promise wasn’t fulfilled, and somewhat unlucky, he was shipped off to his former club just after one year. On Saturday, he will line-up against the side where he says it time was ‘depressing.’
Although the 23-year-old has said that he will ‘not be motivated by revenge’, but he will be out to make a mark against the side who he might feel did not give him enough time to live up to the hype that surrounded him.
FA Cup Final: Key Stats
- The match will be the 135th final of the FA Cup and a repeat of the 1990 FA Cup Final in which Manchester United beat Crystal Palace 1-0 in a replay after the first tie ended in a 3-3 draw.
- It will be Palace’s second ever FA Cup final berth and Manchester United’s eighteenth, with the Red Devils having won the trophy eleven times – just one less win than Arsenal on twelve titles
- United’s last FA Cup Final victory came in 2004 when they defeated First Division side Millwall 3-0.
FA Cup Final Possible line-ups
Crystal Palace Predicted XI
Manchester United Predicted XI
FA Cup Final Prediction
There will be pressure on Louis van Gaal, and a lot of it. One feels he might be heading towards the Old Trafford exit after this game despite him reiterating that he will be there next season. He will hope to bow out with a trophy to show for, but Crystal Palace are no pushovers. Still I see the Red Devils to win with a scoreline of 2-1.
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Image Credit: Laredarmy, LineupBuilder