Mo­ment of truth for ri­vals

CityPress - - Sport -

Manch­ester United have en­dured a frus­trat­ing cam­paign, but can still end it with some sil­ver­ware when they face Crys­tal Palace in the FA Cup fi­nal at Wem­b­ley on Satur­day.

For United, this would be a 12th FA Cup tri­umph, their first since vic­tory over Mill­wall in 2004, and a valu­able ad­di­tion to their im­pres­sive tro­phy col­lec­tion.

For Palace, it would be their first win, and just their sec­ond ap­pear­ance in the fi­nal since los­ing to United in 1990. The match will have the added al­lure of Euro­pean foot­ball, as the FA Cup win­ner qual­i­fies au­to­mat­i­cally for the Europa League group stages.

Arse­nal elim­i­nated the Red Devils last sea­son, but they have reached Wem­b­ley this sea­son by over­com­ing West Ham and Ever­ton in the pre­vi­ous rounds. They needed a re­play to get the bet­ter of the Ham­mers, who beat them 3-2 in their most re­cent Premier League match, while the Tof­fees were de­feated thanks to a last-gasp win­ner from An­thony Mar­tial.

The Ea­gles, mean­while, might feel like a weight has been lifted af­ter their 2-1 win over Stoke City last week­end. That vic­tory over the Pot­ters fol­lowed back-to-back de­feats and a run of four games with­out a win, but that was just their sec­ond win in their last 20 league matches af­ter a bright start to their cam­paign came off the rails mid­way through the sea­son.

Those de­feated by Palace in the ear­lier rounds of the com­pe­ti­tion in­clude Southamp­ton, Stoke City and Tot­ten­ham, be­fore over­com­ing Wat­ford in the semi­fi­nal. Man­ager Alan Pardew and his play­ers will see the cup as a last chance to sal­vage a sea­son that will be con­sid­ered a dis­ap­point­ment, and will bring Euro­pean foot­ball to Sel­hurst Park.

United hold the up­per hand in head-to-head meet­ings, as they have won 21 of the 34 pre­vi­ous meet­ings, draw­ing seven and los­ing just six to their Lon­don-based ri­vals. Palace also have only de­feated United once since 1991, that vic­tory com­ing in a 2-1 win back in Novem­ber of 2011.

Their last meet­ing in the league was an­other vic­tory for the Red Devils, in which Mat­teo Darmian added to Damien De­laney’s own goal to give United a 2-0 win at Old Traf­ford af­ter a goal­less draw at Sel­hurst Park ear­lier on.

In team news, United look like they will have to make do with­out Darmian, as the Ital­ian right-back is side­lined with an an­kle in­jury.

Ger­man mid­fielder Bas­tian Sch­we­in­steiger also misses out with a me­dial col­lat­eral lig­a­ment sprain in his knee.

– TEAMtalk Me­dia

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.