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Match Previews

SEMI-FINAL PREVIEW: ALBION PREPARE FOR WEMBLEY SHOWDOWN

4 April 2019

Paul Hazlewood
Albion take on Manchester City at Wembley Stadium this weekend.

Brighton & Hove Albion travel to Wembley Stadium on Saturday evening for their second-ever Emirates FA Cup semi-final, with Chris Hughton’s men taking on reigning Premier League champions Manchester City, kick-off 5.30pm.

The Seagulls booked their place at Wembley after playing five matches in the illustrious competiton, and will be keen to cause an upset to reach a second FA Cup Final in the club's 118-year history.

Hughton's side turn their full attention to Saturday's game against the Citizens after back-to-back defeats in the Premier League against Southampton and Chelsea, which followed wins against Huddersfield Town and Crystal Palace.

Pep Guardiola's team are 13 matches unbeaten across all competitions, with their last defeat coming against Newcastle United at St James' Park back in January.

Around 35,000 Albion supporters are expected to pack out Wembley Stadium on Saturday evening, as the Seagulls look to secure another date at England's national stadium alongside their seven remaining Premier League matches.

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TEAM NEWS

Hughton confirmed that Pascal Gross will miss Albion’s semi-final, while Solly March’s calf injury will be assessed ahead of Saturday’s visit to Wembley.

Jurgen Locadia is hoping to train before the weekend after missing Wednesday night’s match against Chelsea due to a minor calf injury.

Sergio Aguero (hamstring) is a doubt for City ahead of this weekend's game, after missing their 2-0 win against Cardiff City on Wednesday evening, while Oleksandr Zinchenko could also miss out after being withdrawn with a hamstring injury.

Fabian Delph, Benjamin Mendy and Claudio Bravo all remain sidelined for the Premier League league leaders.

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THE ROAD TO WEMBLEY

The Seagulls began their cup campaign against Premier League opposition away from home, but it proved a fairly comfortable afternoon for Hughton’s side against AFC Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.

Anthony Knockaert and Yves Bissouma put Albion 2-0 ahead before Marc Pugh pulled a goal back, but Florin Andone headed a third to secure his team’s progress to the next stage of the competition.

After drawing 0-0 against West Bromwich Albion in the fourth round, it took 120 minutes to defeat the Baggies at the Hawthorns, after Andone forced extra time with an equalising goal in the 82nd minute.

Glenn Murray came off the bench to bag a brace inside 13 minutes and book Albion’s place in the fifth round — setting up a match against Derby County at the Amex Stadium.

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Despite Ashley Cole’s late consolation, goals from Knockaert and Jurgen Locadia ensured the Seagulls would reach the quarter-finals and put themselves within one match of playing at Wembley Stadium.

A dramatic encounter unfolded at The Den against Millwall, after Locadia and Solly March found the back of the net to astonishingly turnaround a two-goal deficit to force extra time and penalties.

Murray hit the crossbar with Albion’s opening spot-kick, but Maty Ryan came to his team-mate’s rescues by saving Millwall’s fourth penalty, and Jake Cooper’s miss in sudden death booked Albion’s place at Wembley.

The Citizens opened their FA Cup account with an emphatic 7-0 victory over Rotherham United at the Etihad Stadium, before sweeping aside Premier League opponents Burnley 5-0 at the same venue.

Despite going into the final stages only leading 2-1 at Newport County in the fifth round, two late strikes made the scoreline more comfortable to seal a 4-1 win at Rodney Parade and set up a quarter-final against Swansea City.

City survived a big scare at the Liberty Stadium when the Sky Bet Championship side raced into a 2-0 lead, but three second-half goals turned the game on its head and booked City’s place in the semi-finals.

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LAST TIME WE MET:

Albion finished September with a trip to the Etihad Stadium, and the hosts broke the deadlock after 29 minutes following a slick counter-attacking move.

Leroy Sane broke away down the left flank, latching onto Aguero’s pass, and Raheem Sterling converted from the German’s low cross to the back post to open the scoring.

Knockaert had a chance to level shortly before the break, but the Frenchman’s close-range effort was blocked before the hosts doubled their advantage in the second half.

Aguero set off on a mazy run into Albion’s final third and played a one-two with Sterling before lashing home to round off the scoring, as Albion produced a brave display but left empty-handed.

QUARTER-FINAL: ALBION (won 5-4 on penalties)

MILLWALL 2
Pearce 70
O’Brien 79

ALBION 2
Locadia 88
March 90+2

Albion line-up: Ryan; Montoya, Duffy, Dunk, Bernardo; Stephens, Propper, Kayal (Locadia 73); Knockaert (Izquierdo 73), Murray, Jahanbakhsh (March 67).

Subs not used: Button (GK), Bong, Bruno, Burn.

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QUARTER-FINAL: MAN CITY

SWANSEA CITY 2
Grimes 20 pen
Celina 29

MAN CITY 3
B Silva
Nordfeldt 78 og
Aguero 88

Man City line-up: Moraes; Walker, Otamendi, Laporte, Delph (Zinchenko 57); B Silva, Gundogan, D Silva; Mahrez (Aguero 64), Jesus, Sane (Sterling 57).

Subs not used: Muric (GK), Danilo, Foden, Garcia.

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PLAYER TO WATCH: Raheem Sterling

The winger has found the back of the net 19 times this season, while also providing 16 assists for his team-mates across all competitions, as City won the Carabao Cup and still remain in the UEFA Champions League.

Only Aguero, City’s all-time record goalscorer, has struck more times than Sterling this season, but the Argentinian has been reliant on his team-mate’s delivery from wide areas.

Sterling has also been in fine goalscoring form for England since returning from last summer’s World Cup in Russia — the 24-year-old scored twice as Gareth Southgate’s team beat Spain 3-2 away from home.

The winger then fired his first hat-trick for the Three Lions against Czech Republic last month, before claiming a goal and assist against Montenegro a few days later.


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