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The FA Cup Final is set and it’s a blockbuster. Here are the key details

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FA Cup 2024, Finals preview, semi-finals

Just two teams remain in English football’s oldest cup competition, the FA Cup. Here’s everything you need to know, ahead of the Final.

Drama. There’s always drama. Football is rife with it. In fact, football is made from it. Nobody cares about a regulation 2-0 victory, just ask Manchester City who defeated Newcastle by that very scoreline in the 2023-24 FA Cup quarter-finals.

Despite booking their place in the FA Cup Final once again, a position so certain it feels Pep Guardiola’s side should be automatically elevated to that stage of the competition as soon as the season begins. Like a final boss in any video game, Manchester City somehow, someway, always remain in the latter stages of the FA Cup.

How they get there is almost always regulation. Which is why no one really cares how they get there. Football feeds off the drama. And in both the 2023-24 FA Cup Quarter and Semi-Finals, drama was aplenty. Sides blew leads, then regained them, players missed sitters, penalties were involved and redemption arcs both began and crumbled.

Safe to say, if the build-up was anything to go by, we’re in for an all-time FA Cup Final.

FA Cup Guide: Who’s playing and what’s at stake?

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Who’s in the FA Cup Final?

Manchester City vs Manchester United, at Wembley Stadium

Manchester United will seek redemption against Manchester City, in a replay of last year’s decider.

United can consider them extremely lucky, after Semi-Final opponents Coventry City staged a courageous three-goal comeback, before the underdogs netted an extra time winner in the 121st winner — the final play before penalties. But VAR made a controversial offside ruling that was farcically ticky-tack, considering the offside line is not assisted by automated technology.

When is the FA Cup Final?

May 26 (AEST), 2024

It’s a month between the Semis and decider, as teams continue focusing on their runs in the Premier League in the meantime.

The final two stages of the Cup are always staged at London’s iconic venue, Wembley.

How to watch the FA Cup Final

Down under, the action is exclusively on Paramount Plus, because why wouldn’t they make us have three different subscriptions to watch football and its various competitions?

Paramount Plus is infamously bad when it comes to live sport, so our suggestion is to get up when it’s on and not expect a replay to be available straight away in the morning.

Some key storylines to watch out for

Manchester City

If there’s a trophy in world football Pep Guardiola’s side hasn’t won, it’s because it hasn’t been invented yet. Since the dawn of the 2020s, Pep’s City has been an indomitable force ruthlessly sweeping every opponent presented to them in English football.

Not only do they dispatch them with complete debilitating domination, suffocating sides of possession and wilting them down to nothing through wave after wave of relentless attack, but they never seem to break a sweat doing so.

In 2024, Manchester City will look to add another notch to their historic run by becoming the first side since Arsenal (2014, 2015) to win back-to-back FA Cup finals. This follows their 2023 victory, which set them on their way to a historic treble.

There’s no treble for City this year; they were recently knocked out of the Champions League by Real Madrid. But it’s hard to imagine that won’t have them feeling even more locked in for the silverware still available to them. While in the Premier League, they’re locked in an all-time title clash with Arsenal and Liverpool that threatens to go right down to the wire.

In Erling Haaland, Pep Guardiola can call upon the deadliest goalscoring machine English football’s seen since arguably Alan Shearer’s peak years. Behind him, the Norwegian’s lack of creativity is more than compensated by the flair and technicality of Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden.

But, let’s be honest with ourselves. Despite City’s position as the favourite to win the competition, their victory would undoubtedly incite nothing but boredom from anyone other than those on the blue side of Manchester.

football, Erling Haaland
Erling Haaland has been English football’s nightmare since his arrival at Manchester City

Manchester United

Speaking of managers needing a win, an FA Cup victory could just save Erik Ten Hag’s job. A new ownership structure at Old Trafford, which has given Sir Jim Ratcliffe and co. control of Manchester United’s football operations has Ten Hag on the chopping block.

Despite a largely promising debut managerial campaign for the Dutchman, which included an FA Cup final loss to nemeses Manchester City 12 months ago, 2023-24 has done nothing but pour doubt over whether the former Ajax manager is the right man for the United top job.

Form has been inconsistent, with a clear playstyle largely absent, though the argument can be strongly made that injuries, rather than managerial incompetence, have played a more defining role in these mixed fortunes. Their Semi-Final escape speaks exactly to that; the Red Devils allowed Coventry City back into the game, as its defensive unit was once again put to the sword, as has been the case for large stretches of this season.

When Manchester United last won the FA Cup, in 2016, they were led by a Dutchman, Louis Van Gaal. Only Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial remain from that triumphant side. Is that a good omen for Ten Hag heading into their semi-final clash with Coventry? Only time will tell.

What we know is the Dutchman needs a win, especially with the unprecedented managerial merry-go-round expected to hit European football this coming off-season.

FA Cup, Erik Ten Hag
An FA Cup final would be the cherry on top of a season to forget for Erik Ten Hag’s Manchester United

Who won the FA Cup last year?

Manchester City

Manchester City won the FA Cup on their way to a historic treble. They beat cross-town rivals, Manchester United, 2-1 through two Ilkay Gundogan strikes 50 minutes apart. 

It was a result that confirmed the divide between the two sides. Critics will argue their run to the final was relatively easy, playing then-Championship clubs Burnley and Sheffield United.

City dispatched of the former 6-0 in the quarter-final, courtesy of a Haaland hat-trick. It was another trio of goals, this time from Riyad Mahrez, that sent Sheffield United packing in the semi-final. 

It was almost unfair how easily City could dispatch teams last season. Are they even better this year?

Check us out on socials, @onlysportsanz: Instagram | Twitter | Tik Tok

Picture of Kyle Robbins
Kyle Robbins
Kyle is a senior sports writer and producer at Only Sports who lives and breathes sport, with a particular burning passion for everything soccer, rugby league, and cricket. You’ll most commonly find him getting overly hopeful about the Bulldogs and Chelsea’s prospects. Find Kyle on LinkedIn.

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