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  • By Yann Tear at Wembley Stadium

Man City juggernaut can't be halted by Blades at Wembley, as treble talk intensifies




Man City’s quest to emulate Man United treble moves a step closer


Pep Guardiola was this week downplaying the prospect of his team copying what neighbours United uniquely achieved in 1999, but you would not bet against it happening with any degree of confidence.


They have three monumentally demanding games to negotiate before they can claim the biggest prize of all – the one they want more than anything. But the Champions League can wait for now and while it does, they seem more than capable of claiming the domestic double.


They now hold the upper hand over Arsenal in the two-way battle for the title. A win on Wednesday in the head-to-head would come close to sealing the deal. And in the FA Cup, they are now just one more step from glory.


Recent semi-finals have been their undoing at Wembley. Last year, Liverpool put them to bed and there have also been defeats to Chelsea and Arsenal in a run of three successive losses at this stage of the competition.


This time, there was no mistake. The Blades – on course for a return to the Premier League – defended manfully for 40 minutes before a wild swish at the boot of Bernardo Silva by defender Daniel Jebbison gave away the penalty that Riyad Mahrez converted to set City on their way.


Over to you Manchester United


A first all-Manchester final beckons. City and United famously met in the 2011 semi-final, when the new City project was in its infancy and Yaya Toure blasted the winner ahead of a final triumph against Stoke City.


Brighton will have something to say about that of course, and are in better form than their more illustrious opponents. But if they are to avenge the 1983 cup final defeat to the Bryan Robson-led United that won a replay 4-0 after a 2-2 draw, they will have to confound the logic of big matches like this which will always point to a United win.


Erik ten Hag’s men were dreadful in midweek, bowing out of the Europa League after a 3-0 drubbing at Sevilla. They will be determined to pour all they have into this one to make up for it, especially when there is the prospect of meeting City and stopping that treble bid.


United should feel at home, having won the Carabao Cup final at Wembley just a few weeks ago and Albion will have to work hard to make this weekend’s semi-finals not seem like mere formalities.


Lots of empty seats at Wembley


Another of those days when you felt the occasion would have felt more special to the fans at a neutral venue.


Large blocks in the away end were empty and although it was still a healthy attendance - 69,603 the tally - a full house at a smaller ground, involving less travel for these two northern teams, would have made sense.


It seems that particular ship sailed away a long time ago now, but now and again the thought of Villa Park or Old Trafford semi-final springs to mind.


The Sheffield United fans still had fun, though, bringing their party balloons and flags with them. And they brought their noise with them. Their season is already heading for glory with promotion all-but assured.

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