Manchester City and Liverpool will square off again in the FA Cup semi-finals, just a week after their showdown in the Premier League.
Just a week after enthralling fans in a brilliant match in the Premier League, Manchester City and Liverpool will gear up to battle again on Saturday afternoon, this time out in the semi-finals of the 2021/22 FA Cup. The two best teams in England have clashed twice this term, both times in the league, with both encounters ending in thrilling 2-2 draws.
But, on Sunday at Wembley, there will be a definitive winner as Manchester City and Liverpool vie for a spot in the final of the FA Cup. Following their weekend draw, the Cityzens were involved in a gruelling UEFA Champions League encounter against Atletico Madrid, which has made the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Pep Guardiola’s men salvaged a draw in Spain to progress to the semi-finals.
As for Liverpool, they too were held to a draw as they played out an entertaining 3-3 draw with Benfica. Jurgen Klopp opted to rotate his troops, but his team were able to secure a 6-4 aggregate win to set up a Champions League semi-finals date with Villarreal. The Reds are on a seven-game unbeaten run across all competitions, whereas Manchester City have not lost any of their last nine matches.
The Reds will be hoping to keep their quadruple hopes alive, and the Cityzens will aim for their second FA Cup triumph under Guardiola and continue pushing for a treble. Ahead of this hotly anticipated encounter at Wembley, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
— Manchester City (@ManCity) April 15, 2022
In a big blow for Manchester City, key players Kevin De Bruyne and Kyle Walker picked up injuries in the midweek against Atletico Madrid and are doubts for Saturday’s clash. Cole Palmer is close to a return but is unlikely to be involved for the Premier League champions at Wembley.
Pep Guardiola will line his team up in a 4-3-3 formation with Ederson Moraes guarding the goal, even though Zack Steffen has been the preferred option in the cup ties. Ruben Dias returned to the matchday squad against Atletico Madrid and should be reinstated to the starting XI at the expense of John Stones. Aymeric Laporte should partner with the Portuguese international.
With Walker a doubt for the game, Joao Cancelo ought to move into the right-back slot while Nathan Ake could start on the left side of the defence after impressing in recent games. Oleksandr Zinchenko is also an option for the manager to consider.
Rodri will occupy the deepest role in the middle of the park and offer security to the defence. With De Bruyne likely to miss out, Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva should feature in midfield and share the creative burden against Liverpool.
Gabriel Jesus enjoyed a good game against Liverpool last time out but could make way for Riyad Mahrez, who has been in good scoring form in the FA Cup. Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling ought to complete the rest of the frontline for Manchester City.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Cancelo, Dias, Laporte, Ake; Silva, Rodri, Gundogan; Mahrez, Foden, Sterling
Diogo Jota picked up a slight knock against Benfica earlier in the week but is expected to shrug it off and be available for selection. Jurgen Klopp has no other injury concern ahead of the Wembley encounter. Having fielded a much-changed side in the midweek game, the Liverpool manager will recall his best players to the lineup on Saturday.
We will check on Diogo Jota's condition for this weekend's #EmiratesFACup semi-final.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 14, 2022
Alisson Becker will be the man protecting the Reds’ goal. Joel Matip will likely be the only defender to retain his spot in the side, with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk and Andrew Robertson all set to return after being rested against Benfica. Joe Gomez, Ibrahima Konate and Kostas Tsimikas will make way.
Moving into the middle of the park, Fabinho, who was off-colour in the league meeting against City, should be reinstated to the defensive midfield role for Saturday’s crucial encounter. He will likely be supported by Thiago Alcantara and captain Jordan Henderson, with Klopp likely to opt for the latter’s experience over Naby Keita’s energy.
Roberto Firmino, who grabbed a brace against Benfica, should keep his place in the attacking lineup. The Brazilian will be flanked by usual partners in crime, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. Luis Diaz and Jota would be options from the bench for Klopp to call upon.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Firmino, Mane
- Manchester City and Liverpool have met twice before at Wembley Stadium, with both games ending in a 1-1 draw before going to penalties. The Cityzens eventually emerged victorious on both occasions.
- This is the first FA Cup meeting between Manchester City and Liverpool since the Reds beat the Mancunian outfit 1-0 away from home in 2003.
- Following their Premier League fixture on April 10th, Liverpool and Manchester City will meet twice in the space of a week for the first time since April 2018, when both legs of their UEFA Champions League quarter-finals came six days apart.
- Manchester City are appearing in their fifth FA Cup semi-finals in the last six years. However, they have lost three of their previous four such matches (W1).
- Liverpool have progressed from eight of their previous ten FA Cup semi-final ties, only failing to do so in this run in 1989/90 and 2014/15.
Player to Watch
this looked like a bad miss from Mahrez but it's actually a ridiculous block from Joel Matip that probably saves a goal. A massive, match-winning, likely title-winning goal.pic.twitter.com/Dsf3N5WVJC
— The Tactical Times (@Tactical_Times) April 11, 2022
The 31-year-old is the leading goalscorer for Manchester City this season, having netted 22 goals from 39 matches across all competitions. Mahrez also has assisted seven more for his teammates, emerging as a key part of Pep Guardiola’s team that is chasing success on three fronts this season.
Mahrez has scored four goals in three FA Cup games this season, double that of in his 20 previous appearances. He has scored in round four, round five and the quarter-finals this term. The last Premier League player to score in four consecutive rounds of the FA Cup in the same campaign was Romelu Lukaku in 2017/18 (Manchester United).
Mahrez did not start the last game against Liverpool and squandered a great opportunity to win it for Manchester City after coming on as a substitute. He will be aiming to make amends on Saturday and fire his team to a victory.
Manchester City 1-2 Liverpool
Manchester City are likely to go into the game on Saturday without Kyle Walker and Kevin De Bruyne, both of whom were pivotal presences during the 2-2 draw last weekend in the league against Liverpool. Furthermore, Pep Guardiola’s side go into the FA Cup tie on the back of a gruelling clash against Atletico Madrid that will have taken a lot out of them physically and mentally.
Liverpool, meanwhile, were able to rest several of their key players against Benfica in midweek. They could thus be able to field a much fresher set of XI at Wembley on Saturday. Given how equally matched these two teams are, the relative freshness of players could hand Jurgen Klopp’s side the slightest of advantages, which is why The Hard Tackle predicts the Reds to beat the Cityzens and qualify for the FA Cup final.