Saturday, June 15, 2024

Manchester City 3-0 Sheffield United: What Were The Main Talking Points As Pep Guardiola’s Side Punch Their FA Cup Final Ticket At Wembley?

Tom Dunstan in Editorial, FA Cup 23 Apr 2023

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Putting in a professional performance at Wembley on Saturday evening, Manchester City booked their spot in the final of this season’s FA Cup thanks to a 3-0 victory against Championship outfit Sheffield United.

While the Blades might have come close to grabbing a famous opener in the capital as 23-year-old Lliman Ndiaye missed a glorious chance inside the six-yard box, Pep Guardiola’s side certainly didn’t look back as Riyad Mahrez converted from the penalty spot two minutes before the half-time break.

With Guardiola electing to name a superstar starting XI here, it was Mahrez who stole all of the headlines as the Algerian ace bagged a stunning FA Cup semi-final hat-trick and became the first player to do so since 1958.

Bagging a second-half brace as spearheading a City attack that largely didn’t have to get out of third gear, the Sky Blues will now have a watchful eye on Manchester United’s showdown against Brighton on Sunday afternoon.

While Sheffield United might have always known that they were in need of a real FA Cup miracle at Wembley, the Championship high-flyers will take plenty of positives away from what was an iconic adventure.

However, on an evening when Manchester City breezed their way to this year’s final, we have taken a look at the main talking points from Saturday’s battle at Wembley.

A silverware sweep is still firmly on the cards for City

Watching Arsenal settle for a third straight Premier League stalemate on Friday night as the Gunners eventually played out a 3-3 draw against Southampton, Manchester City are now really smelling the chance to make history in 2023.

With all eyes focused on what looks set to be a season-defining showdown when Arsenal arrive at the Etihad on Wednesday night, Guardiola’s side are sat in the driving seat to complete a silverware sweep over the coming weeks.

Breezing past German giants Bayern Munich earlier in the week as they claimed a 4-1 aggregate romp and booked their Champions League semi-final spot, the former Barcelona boss finds his side riding a stellar wave of momentum.

Still firing in three competitions and unbeaten in each of their last 11 straight appearances, the Premier League heavyweights have certainly found top gear at a vital time.

Putting in a professional display at Wembley here and finding what has been a free-scoring flurry in the final third, City will really take some stopping down the final stretch.

Mahrez steals the show at Wembley

Although many might have been surprised to see the red-hot Erling Haaland named among Guardiola’s starting XI here, it was Mahrez who rightfully stole all of the headlines on Saturday evening.

Left as an unused substitute in both of Manchester City’s Champions League quarter-final meetings against Bayern Munich, it appears that the one-time Leicester star has a key role to play while on domestic duties.

With Guardiola quick to praise the 32-year-old’s clinical display here, Mahrez has now started in all four of City’s domestic appearances since returning from March’s international break.

Eventually leaving Wembley with the match ball and writing himself into the FA Cup history books, the Algerian ace also ended his seven-match draught against domestic opposition.

Lifting City’s Golden Boot last season, Mahrez’s performance on Saturday evening only underlines why he still remains a key part of Guardiola’s fearsome attack.

Scoring the first FA Cup semi-final hat-trick since back in 1958, Mahrez will be looking to keep his spot when City welcome Arsenal to the Etihad in midweek.

Plenty of positives in defeat for the Blades

Although Sheffield United might have been disappointed after their FA Cup adventure came to an end on Saturday evening, Paul Heckingbottom’s men should take a string of positives away from a famous run that led them all the way to Wembley.

Causing an almighty FA Cup upset back on March 1st as they claimed a stunning 1-0 victory at home against top-four contenders Tottenham, the Blades have rightfully received plenty of plaudits this season.

With the mood around Bramall Lane still at a real high, United will now turn their attention back to what is arguably a more important task that they still have to complete.

Although the Blades might have already seen Burnley punch an immediate Premier League return, Heckingbottom’s side are within touching distance of clinching their own top-two finish.

With their sole attention now turning to what could be an emotional contest against West Brom in midweek, the Championship high-flyers have certainly caught the imagination of many around Sheffield.

Putting in a rugged first-half display at Wembley and causing the Premier League champions some brief frustration, United should look back on their FA Cup adventure with real fondness.

Match Report

Manchester City: Ortega, Walker, Akanji, Laporte, Gomez, Gundogan, Silva, Mahrez, Alvarez, Grealish, Haaland

Subs: Foden, Lewis, Palmer, Phillips

Sheffield United: Foderingham, Ahmedhodzic, Egan, Robinson, Lowe, Fleck, Norwood, Berge, Baldock, Jebbison, Ndiaye

Subs: Basham, Bogle, Coulibaly, McBurnie, Sharp

Goals: Mahrez (43’ P, 61’, 66’)

Yellow Cards: Norwood

Red Cards: N/A

Referee: Stuart Attwell

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom has spent the past six years as one of our senior writers and betting experts. Alongside working with numerous publications from across the globe, Tom also graduated from the University of Falmouth in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Digital Media.
Spending almost the past decade working in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada, he has also spent time featuring in sports radio. Tom can be followed on Instagram - @iamtomdunstan

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