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Five Things Learned: Manchester City 1-2 Manchester United (FA Cup Final)



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Uncharacteristic errors and sluggish play led to Manchester United upsetting Manchester City in a 1-2 win in the Emirates FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

Alejandro Garnacho’s and Kobbie Mainoo’s first-half goals proved to be enough for the Red Devils, as Jeremy Doku’s late goal in the second-half couldn’t spur a comeback.

It was a poor performance from the defending FA Cup champions, who looked out of sync for the majority of the match.

The miscommunication was on full display in the 30th minute, when Josko Gvardiol’s attempted headed back-pass soared over Stefan Ortega, who was rushing off his line, gifted Garnacho a simple tap in.

Following the opener, United pounced and grabbed a second on the counter-attack just nine minutes later when Bruno Fernandes set up Mainoo at the far post for the second.

Pep Guardiola brought Jeremy Doku and Manuel Akanji on at half-time, and quickly swapped a struggling Kevin De Bruyne for Julian Alvarez, but Manchester United’s low block proved too difficult to crack.

After a few missed chances from Haaland, Foden and Alvarez, Doku grabbed a goal back in the 87th but it proved to be too little too late, as Manchester United pulled through to win their 13th FA Cup and first since 2016.

Saturday’s FA Cup was the final match of the season for Manchester City, who ended their season on a relatively low note despite winning their historic fourth consecutive Premier League title just a few days prior. 

Here are the five things learned from Manchester City’s FA Cup Final loss!

Doku needed to start

It was an entirely different game with Jeremy Doku on the pitch. Despite only being on the field for 45 minutes, the Belgian barely trailed behind any of the other attackers for total touches.

Doku took Aaron Wan-Bissaka on at will, and was the only player capable of creating anything on Saturday. If he had started on the left there’s a decent chance City win the double.

Ortega is not perfect

After becoming the hero of the season after his title winning save against Tottenham earlier this month, the debate around who should be Manchester City’s first choice goalkeeper started back up.

However, a brutal miscommunication for Manchester United’s first goal shows that Stefan Ortega is human after all. It’s just one mistake and it doesn’t negate all of the excellent performances the German keeper has had this season, but shows how limited minutes can sometimes shield a player from scrutiny.

We need to talk about Kevin De Bruyne

It’s been a confusing five months for Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian midfielder set the world on fire when he returned just after the New Year. However, the last few months have been filled with inconsistent performances with moments of brilliance sprinkled in. 

It seems odd to be worried about a player with 24 goal contributions in 26 games, but the inconsistency is a problem. De Bruyne has always had off games, he’s afforded the ability to freelance more than any other player in the squad. But when every touch is poor, and every pass is a yard too far, questions will start to be asked…

Alvarez’s inconsistent finishing

Julian Alvarez is a borderline world class forward. However, there have been moments throughout the season where potential equalisers or match-winning goals would veer off target.

Manchester City would usually find a way through regardless. But that wasn’t the case on Saturday. His miss midway through the second-half likely would’ve spurred a comeback, instead it was another example of the team being out of sync.  

Statistically he’s been underperforming as well, the Argentine has 12 goals in the Premier League this season with an xG of 13, when you factor in his penalties and free kick goals it paints a larger picture of wasted chances. 

Reinforcements are desperately needed

It was tough to watch Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez leave this past summer without sure-fire replacements. Doku and Mateo Kovacic have proven themselves over the season, but it is not enough.

De Bruyne isn’t looking like his normal self, Bernardo has struggled, Kyle Walker is showing his age and Rodri is exhausted. Arsenal have spent £400m the past two summers and likely will continue that trend.

Bruno Guimarães seems to be the priority, which helps with more midfield solidity, but attackers will be needed as well!