FA Cup preview: Derby a mini final?

The winner of the Manchester derby FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on Saturday will be favourites to claim the illustrious competition.With Stoke City and Bolton battling away for the other spot in the May 14 decider, the winner of the fierce derby will undoubtedly be favoured to lift the trophy.

Both sides are likely to be without a gun forward with United’s Wayne Rooney missing his second game through suspension and City’s Carlos Tevez unlikely to play after suffering a hamstring injury in their English Premier League clash with Liverpool on Monday.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s team will enter the game high on confidence after progressing to the UEFA Champions League last four courtesy of a win over Chelsea on Tuesday.

In contrast, City have suffered two defeats in their last three outings, the most recent being the lacklustre 3-0 loss at Liverpool.

Roberto Mancini will need to turn that drop in form around, as well as end a four-game winless run against their highly-fancied rivals.

The Blues have to look back to January 2010 for their last victory over United and Tevez hit a brace in the 2-1 win on that occasion.

Tevez’s likely absence puts a mountain of pressure on young striker Mario Balotelli to deliver for Mancini.

The 20-year-old has found the net 10 times in all competitions this season but he has not scored in his last seven appearances for the club.

United are in good form and the victory over Chelsea marked their seventh straight win in all competitions.

Since his hat-trick at West Ham United in the English Premier League, the game from which his suspension stems, Rooney has been in tremendous form.

The 25-year-old scored the only goal in United’s win at Stamford Bridge in the first-leg of the Champions League quarter-final before playing his part with a strong performance in the return leg.

The void left by Rooney may be filled by the English Premier League’s leading goal-scorer, Dimitar Berbatov.

Berbatov is seemingly third in line for Ferguson with both Rooney and young starlet Javier Hernandez being picked ahead of him, but the Bulgarian was on the scoresheet against Fulham in their league victory last weekend.

Ferguson’s team have continually been the benchmark this season and City will need to produce their best to remain in contention for their first FA Cup since 1969.

United hold the record of most Cup trophies with 11, but they have lost two finals since their 2004 triumph against Millwall.