JUNE 2, 2023: This season’s FA Cup final should be something special. A local derby will appeal to the fans, if not the players, with Manchester United eager to prevent City from winning the treble and also so show Pep Guardiola and his team that they are a force to be reckoned with once more. United have been suffering for a decade, cast into the shadows a little by the loss of their most successful manager, the rise of City and a succession of poor decisions. They want to win at Wembley, to complete their own double of two domestic trophies, repeating Liverpool’s 2021-22 success.
People continue to moan that the FA Cup doesn’t mean anything to the Premier League clubs, and yet since 1992-93, the competition has been won 26 times out of 30 by one of the so-called “big six” with only four winners from elsewhere – Everton (1995), Portsmouth (2008), Wigan (2013) and Leicester (2021). A total of 39 of the 60 finalists have finished in the top six in the Premier League. Of the 30 finals prior to 2022-23, 28 have been all-Premier games.
This season, the Premier League saw nine of its teams fall at the first hurdle, including Newcastle and Aston Villa, who lost to Sheffield Wednesday and Stevenage respectively. It is a fact that some Premier clubs send out weaker teams when they play cup ties, but they are invariably too strong even with a side of squad players. The Premier managers know that they can deal with the FA Cup with a few changes, such is the power of the league. Both City and United will field their strongest available selections at Wembley, even though Guardiola’s men have an even bigger occasion on June 10 in Istanbul.