FA Cup final preview

Manchester United face Crystal Palace later day, as both teams look to shine some light on relatively poor seasons.

As for Manchester United, if Louis Van Gaal does leave this summer, an FA cup win would be a nice way to bow out, and it would be especially fitting as a certain Wayne Rooney has never won this prestigious trophy in his career, so it will be a big game for him.

In fact, the only players in either squad who have won this tournament before are Juan Mata of United, and James McCarthur of Palace, although neither of them won it with their current club, Mata winning in 2012 with Chelsea, and McCarthur winning it in 2013 for Wigan.

Today will be a rematch of the 1990 cup final where these two sides faced each other in an entertaining match which finished 3-3, before the replay saw the Red Devils take the trophy with a 1-0 win.

On the losing side for that final was current Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew, who also lost in the final in 2006 whilst managing West Ham, so there will be extra motivation for him.

United’s run to today’s game began with a 1-0 win over League 1 side Sheffield United, where the game looked set for a replay before Memphis Depay was fouled  in the area, leaving it down to Wayne Rooney to fire United into the next round from the spot, after an unconvincing win.

Their form improved in the fourth round as they faced Championship promotion chasers Derby County, and despite George Thorne cancelling out Wayne Rooney’s impressive opener, goals from Daley Blind and Juan Mata sent United through.

The fifth round presented yet another lower league team, as United brushed aside League One Shrewsbury, as a Chris Smalling goal was followed by a free-kick from Juan Mata before Jesse Lingard sealed their place in the quarter finals.

It was here that United finally faced a Premier League team, and they were also finally matched, as West Ham’s Dmitri Payet scored a stunning 25 yard free-kick . However, an 83rd minute equaliser from Anthony Martial set up a replay to keep their hopes alive.

They then proceeded to make their chance count as a brilliant goal from Marcus Rashford and a second from Marouane Fellaini was too much for West Ham despite a late goal from James Tomkins in the final ever FA cup game at Upton Park.

The semi-final saw Marouane Fellaini do it again, but this time, not only was it at Wembley, it was against his former club Everton. However,  despite David De Gea saving Romelu Lukaku’s penalty, Everton got back level through Chris Smalling’s own goal, and just as it looked as if the game was heading to extra time, a stoppage time winner from Anthony Martial sent them through to the final.

Crystal Palace began their FA Cup campaign well with a 1-2 win away to Southampton as goals from Joel Ward and Wilfred Zaha sent them into fourth round tie against Stoke City.

Here, Zaha once again scored the winner as Palace won 1-0, this time in front of their own fans.

That sent them through to a tough 5th round tie away to Tottenham at White Hart Lane, and when Dele Alli’s shot bounced off both posts, it seemed as though they would struggle to make it through, but Martin Kelly’s goal was eventually enough to put Palace into the quarter finals.

Here, they finally faced a non-Premier League outfit in the form of Reading, and despite being on a poor run of form, a penalty from Yohan Cabaye and a goal from Frazier Campbell meant that their cup run continued.

In the semi finals we saw a rematch of the 2013 play off final, which was of course also at Wembley, and, also won by Palace. On that occasion, they had to wait until the final minute of extra time for a Kevin Phillips penalty to send them into the Premier League, but this time, the opening goal came after just 5 minutes, through Yannick Bolasie, and despite an equaliser from Troy Deeney, Connor Wickam’s goal booked Crystal Palace’s place in today’s final.

Today is also a big game for Southampton who will be hoping that Manchester United win, as that will result in a Europa League group stage place for Ronald Koeman’s men, which will be important as the Saints were knocked out in the play off qualifying round before they reached the groups at the start of the season.

Marcus Rashford will be hoping to cap off a huge week, by adding to his first ever England call up with an FA cup win, and we expect him to start after his goal on Tuesday against Bournemouth in what was the last Premier League game of the season.

Now we are just left with two teams to battle it out on the big stage – will Wayne Rooney finally get his FA cup, or will Alan Pardew get revenge?

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