After safely navigating our way past Chelsea, in the Champions League, on Tuesday night, we now travel to London to contest an FA Cup semi-final against our near neighbours, Manchester City. It promises to be a thrilling encounter and we can only hope the fare served us compensates for the extortionate cost of getting to the venue and purchasing a ticket. But should we really be putting a price on glory?
Yesterday we ran an article whereby Rio Ferdinand sharpened his claws and lashed out at City regarding their lack of team spirit. Today, the tabloid press is awash with quotes form the normally mild-mannered Paul Scholes with the veteran midfielder doing his bit to stoke up the tension by dismissing Manchester City`s right to be called rivals, when he comments,
“That`s the difference that maybe there is between the two teams. We have a belief that we can beat anybody but if City have that, I`m not too sure.”
“When they are fourth or fifth or wherever in the league, I don`t think they can be classed as a main rival.”
“Our main rivals are obviously Arsenal and Chelsea. I think City are just a rival because of where they are form. Liverpool are the same.”
“With them getting the money, it has probably helped us a bit. It has probably spurred us on a bit more when we play them.”
Cat scratch fever 2!
Manchester United Team News:
United travel to Wembley without the services of Wayne Rooney, the striker will be serving the second game of a two game ban imposed for his bout of swearing and aggressive behaviour at Upton Park, With Rooney in such blistering form, could his absence be a crucial factor?
Elsewhere, Sir Alex could well be looking at his defence, especially at right back. John O`Shea occupied the position against Chelsea but that was purely down to the absence of Rafael.
Up front, we expect Sir Alex to go with Hernandez and Berbatov with Rooney unavailable.
As for injuries, the following are ruled out – Fletcher, Hargreaves
As for suspensions, the following will play no part in proceedings – Rooney, Evans
Player to watch: Javier Hernandez
Did anybody expect the young Mexican striker to be so prolific in his first season in English football? Javier will relish the opportunity to play again at Wembley and I recon he`d not be too objectionable to scoring a goal like he did on his first appearance there against Chelsea in the Community Shield.
Manchester City Team News:
If United are weakened by the absence of Wayne Rooney then City, it has to be said, are in a similar state, possibly worse, by the absence of Carlos Tevez. The Argentine international, who once plied his trade with us, collected a hamsting injury in the defeat at Anfield and is set to be out for three to four weeks.
Talking about the loss the Manchester City boss, Roberto Mancini, had this to say,
“I`m disappointed; Carlos is an important player for us and for this game.”
“But this is football, it can happen in every game. They are playing without Rooney and we`re playing without Tevez”
Player to watch: Mario Balotelli
An enigmatic talent, the lad has so much skill and such a bright future ahead of him if only he can keep on the straight and narrow.
Match Facts & Stats
United go into this fixture with the upper-hand over their neighbours. In the last 8 meetings United have only lost once.
Away from Eastlands, City are, currently, having trouble scoring with our cash-laden neighbours not hitting the net for an amazing 6 hours and 25 minutes.
Saturday will be the second time our paths have crossed in an FA Cup semi-final back in 1926, but we`ll skip the outcome shall we?
Our officials for this FA Cup semi-final are:-
Referee – Mike Dean
Assistants – Mike Mullarkey and Peter Kirkup
Fourth Official – Chris Foy
United are on a charge and nothing would give us more pleasure than emerging as the victors on Saturday evening. To see us end the dreams, for another year, of City winning a trophy would be heaven, especially after all that money they`ve spent. I`d hope that United`s experience of such occasions will stand them in good stead and if we can get some of that famous United momentum going I`m certain this will be our day. It could even be quite a comfortable afternoon, I`m going for 3-1!
Our next opponents are Newcastle United, at St James Park, on Tuesday evening.