Saturday 21st May. 5:30PM. BBC One
The showpiece event of the English football season has arrived and all eyes will be cast to Wembley for the FA Cup final as Manchester United take on Crystal Palace in a repeat of the 1990 final.
Both teams will be equally desperate to lift the trophy, especially after their equally frustrating Premier League campaigns. Passions will be running high, but it’s set to be an intriguing battle at the home of football.
Who will walk away with the world’s oldest cup? Here’s everything you need to know.
Will Eagles Soar To Victory?
Having started the season so well, Crystal Palace have been dreadful since Christmas. The one exception has been this competition, where Pardew’s men have been excellent. They’ve already knocked out Southampton, Tottenham and Watford en route to the final, so have absolutely nothing to fear. At the very least, they’ll fight to the the death.
For the Manchester United players, Saturday’s final is a chance to add a trophy to the cabinet. For Palace, it’s a chance to write their names into club history. Connor Wickham and Yohan Cabaye will both be back and hoping to become the hero. But it’s the wings where Pardew’s men can really shine.
Ex-Red Devil Wilfried Zaha will be desperate to make a point whilst Yannick Bolasie’s trickery will always pose a threat. Palace will need to be at their best to cause an upset, but Manchester United are hardly unbeatable. Don’t rule out the upset.
Who knows, if they get it, Pardew might just be back in the hunt for the England job too.
LVG To Leave On A High?
Nothing is set in stone just yet, but the common belief is that this will be Louis van Gaal’s last game in charge of the Old Trafford giants. In truth, his time in Manchester has been tumultuous to say the least. However, delivering a trophy that the club last won in 2004 would be a positive ending.
That will be the minimum expectation given that the Red Devils face seemingly inferior opposition. With skipper Wayne Rooney looking revitalised in a deeper midfield role, the favourites will be looking to dominate possession as they have in most games this season. And with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial ready to convert those chances, they can be confident of goals.
A late Chris Smalling goal may have cost David De Gea a share of the Golden Glove award, but the Red Devils have been pretty solid at the back. Keeping a shutout against a Palace side that struggles for goals would provide a platform for victory, and that’s exactly what they’ll be looking to do.
For all his faults, Van Gaal has done well to bed youngsters into the senior team. With a change of manager looming, winning the cup could form the start of a new era. After the miserable three years they’ve had post-Ferguson, a return to silverware would be very welcomed indeed.
Either way, it should be a great final. And we’ll be hoping to land some winning bets too.
Crystal Palace v Manchester United Betting
Van Gaal’s men enter the final as heavy favourites to lift the trophy. In fact, the bookmakers think they’ll seal the win in 90 minutes, with Bet365 pricing the Red Devils at 3/4 for the win. Palace, meanwhile, are available at 19/4. Or you could back the draw at 13/5.
This has been a difficult campaign for United, but lifting silverware would at least come as some consolation. It might not be pretty at times, but we think they’ll have enough to beat the Eagles at Wembley.
That’s mainly because Palace scored just 39 goals in the league. Pardew’s men could struggle to find a way past the impressive De Gea, and that should leave the door open for the Red Devils to seal the win.
Whatever happens on Saturday, this has been a fantastic breakout season for young Rashford. And we’re backing him to follow his England call-up by putting the icing on the proverbial cake.
With captain Rooney operating from a deeper role, Van Gaal’s men will be looking to the new hero for inspiration in and around the box. With Betfred offering this match as part of their Double Delight / Hat-Trick Heaven promotion, he has to be worth a punt.