Look out, Arsenal! Winners & losers as Riyad Mahrez's wand of a left foot maintains Man City's treble charge

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Riyad Mahrez Man City multiple Sheffield United
Riyad Mahrez dazzled Sheffield United as Manchester City reached the FA Cup final to put the fear into Arsenal and keep their treble hopes on track.

Poor Sheffield United. They played exactly as they should have against Manchester City and frustrated Pep Guardiola's side for much of the first half but were still beaten 3-0.

That's because even when City are not on top form and Guardiola has rotated his squad, they still have players like Riyad Mahrez who can kill you in an instant.

Mahrez took the Blades apart in this FA Cup semi-final with a ruthless attacking display, literally slicing his way through the team with a glorious solo goal on his way to a hat-trick.

The Algerian has been in and out of the team in recent weeks and did not even get on the pitch against Bayern on Wednesday but he was the main man at Wembley, pushing Erling Haaland out of the way to grab the limelight.

City's treble dreams are very much alive and Arsenal must be very afraid of facing them next with the Premier League title on the line.

GOAL breaks down the winners & losers from Wembley...

  1. WINNER: Riyad Mahrez
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    WINNER: Riyad Mahrez

    Mahrez has often lacked consistency during his City career but every so often he is capable of a brilliant and decisive display and that was what he delivered here.

    It was not just about the goals. The Algerian was energetic and hard-working on an afternoon when many of City's players were far from their best and had been shackled by Sheffield United flooding the midfield with five players.

    The Algerian reclaimed penalty duties from Haaland after the Norwegian's skied spot-kick in the 1-1 draw with Bayern and stroked the ball confidently into the bottom corner.

    It was his first goal since netting against RB Leipzig in February and he was determined to build on it.

    For the second goal he robbed the ball from Max Lowe in midfield and stormed forward on his own. He was helped by sluggish defending but his pace and power put the fear into the Blades.

    He was far from sated by his brace and showed his natural striking abilities by slamming home Jack Grealish's pass with one touch.

    It was a historic moment for Mahrez, who became the first City player to score a hat-trick at Wembley and the first player to get a treble in an FA Cup semi-final since Manchester United's Alex Dawson 65 years ago.

  2. LOSER: Erling Haaland
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    LOSER: Erling Haaland

    The Norwegian can be allowed a day off once in a while given the incredible season he is having and it would be no surprise to see him respond to drawing a blank here by shooting down Arsenal next week.

    But given how high he has raised the bar, it was disappointing to see how little he got involved here.

    Some might have thought he would have been licking his lips at the prospect of facing Championship opposition again after getting a hat-trick in the quarter-final tie against Burnley.

    But the Blades were far less open than Vincent Kompany's side and he only had one attempt on goal, creeping in at the far post but missing the target from a difficult angle.

    His seven-game scoring streak came to an end when Guardiola took him off midway through the second half.

    He will, however, have another chance to shine at Wembley in the FA Cup final against either Brighton or Manchester United in six weeks' time.

  3. WINNER: City's treble hopes
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    WINNER: City's treble hopes

    For a side that have dominated English football over the past six years, City have badly underachieved in the FA Cup.

    Pep Guardiola acknowledged this on Friday as he lamented his record in FA Cup semi-finals, losing to Arsenal in 2017 and 2020, Chelsea in 2021 and Liverpool last year.

    Those defeats scuppered City's hopes of winning a treble - or even a quadruple in 2021 - but now that they have cleared a hurdle they have struggled with so much down the years, their dream of winning all the top trophies this season is very much on.

    Their hardest task will be to win the Champions League, the holy grail that keeps slipping from their grasp, and in the semi-finals they face serial winners Real Madrid.

    But winning the Premier League looks ever more likely and they will fancy their chances against either Brighton or Manchester United in the FA Cup final.

    United fans are dreading the thought of their noisy neighbours matching their treble in 1999 and with good reason - City look a class above every team in Europe and winning three trophies is looking more and more inevitable.

  4. LOSER: Arsenal
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    LOSER: Arsenal

    This FA Cup semi-final should have no bearing on City's Premier League title race with Arsenal but the difference between the two team's state of minds was plain to see.

    Even though City did not produce a statement performance at Wembley, they looked utterly at ease and secured the win while making six changes to the team that had drawn 1-1 at Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

    Contrast that with Arsenal, who looked like a bag of nerves against Southampton on Friday and only avoided defeat thanks to two late goals.

    In their last three matches Mikel Arteta's side have thrown away two-goal leads to draw at Liverpool and West Ham and dropped points at home to the worst team in the Premier League.

    City, meanwhile, have barely had to break stride to beat Leicester, win an FA Cup semi-final against promotion-chasing Sheffield United and overcome Bayern Munich.

    That has to be a psychological advantage heading into Wednesday's title showdown against Arsenal, where the Gunners must go looking for all three points to realistically stand a chance of finishing top of the league.

  5. WINNER: Kyle Walker
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    WINNER: Kyle Walker

    The England defender is living a strange existence at the moment. He has been relegated to a squad player by his coach, who recently openly admitted that Walker was not capable of playing as an inverted full-back.

    But when he does start games, Walker looks unbeatable.

    He was outstanding in the back-three, shutting down any sense of danger from the Blades thanks to his renowned pace.

    Even though Mahrez was the star of the show, ITV commentator Ally McCoist chose Walker as his man of the match for his dominant defensive display.

    Walker may not be Guardiola's favourite player, but after a performance like this he deserves to start in the final.

  6. LOSER: The FA's rules on loan players
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    LOSER: The FA's rules on loan players

    Sheffield United gave it a real go at Wembley but they will be left wondering if they could have even caused an upset had they been allowed to play Tommy Doyle and James McAtee, their two players who are on loan from City.

    FA rules prevent teams facing their parent club in domestic cup competitions, even if they have permission, meaning the Blades were deprived of their third top scorer in McAtee and another crucial midfielder in Doyle.

    Guardiola even said he would have liked for the duo to play against City to gain the experience of a Wembley semi-final.

    Joao Cancelo was able to play against City for Bayern in the Champions League despite only joining the Bundesliga side on loan in January so it felt strange that Sheffield United were not allowed to play either player, thus making the task of beating the Premier League champions even harder.