Manchester United and Southampton lock horns in the final of the EFL Cup at Wembley Stadium on Sunday. Manchester United head into their ninth league cup final and will hope to lift their 5th English League Cup title. On the other hand, opponents Southampton have reached only their second league cup final with the other feat coming way back in 1979 in which they lost 1-2 to Nottingham Forest. For a club like Southampton who aren’t title contenders, winning the EFL Cup would be a noteworthy achievement and Claude Puel should get his players fired up to match to superior United team at least on paper.
— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) February 24, 2017
History suggests that United have been thoroughly dominant in the last 10 meetings between these two sides. United have recorded 6 wins to Southampton’s 2 with the other 2 games finishing in a stalemate. However, it is important to notice that both clubs share 2 wins each in their last 4 meetings, highlighting the south coast club's rise in level in recent years. The Saints can, however, take inspiration from their famous win against Manchester United in the FA Cup final at Wembley, 41 years ago in 1976.
United looking for some confidence to fight on four fronts
A win here on Sunday for Jose Mourinho’s men would certainly provide an extra boost to his players in order to perform in the rest of the season, where they will still fight in three competitions. Though the manager and the club have been a part of criticism since the season began, it is important to know that United have only lost one game in their last 25 matches and that too was their 2-1 defeat at Hull in the return leg of the EFL Cup semifinals. In spite of staying at 6th on the table for quite a long time now, confidence is very high around the Reds’ camp. They continued their march on four fronts as a 1-0 win over at Saint Etienne and a 2-1 win at Blackburn ensured that they are through to the next rounds of Europa League and the FA Cup respectively. Jose will bring out all his big guns to ensure he gets his first trophy in his first season with United.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) February 24, 2017
Manchester United Team News
Henrikh Mkhitaryan picked up a hamstring injury in United’s 1-0 win at Saint-Etienne. Michael Carrick also suffered a calf injury meaning both important players are a doubt for the upcoming final at Wembley. Ander Herrera is set to return from suspension but Wayne Rooney is doubtful with a muscle injury.
Southampton aiming to steal the spotlight from United
Claude Puel will be well and truly aware of the fact that his side are the dark horses coming into the final and United are the firm favorites. But if he could seal the win on Sunday, not only would it dent United’s charge for the rest of the season, but also uplift the morale around St. Mary’s to go on and finish higher in the table. They are currently 11th in the table, nine points above the relegation zone. The plus point here is Southampton have only this final to be concerned as they they were eliminated by Arsenal in the fouth round of the FA Cup. Puelcan take solace from their win over United’s fierce rivals Liverpool in the semifinals of this cup and boost the confidence of his players to produce another upset in the final at Wembley on Sunday.
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) February 24, 2017
Southampton Team News
Sofiane Boufal is fighting hard to recover from his ankle injury in time for Sunday’s final. Skipper Virgil van Dijk and Charlie Austin remain long-term absentees.
Manchester United XI (4-3-3): De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Bailly, Rojo; Herrera, Carrick, Pogba; Mata, Ibrahimovic, Martial
Southampton XI (4-3-3): Forster; Soares, Stephens, Yoshida, Bertrand; Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Davis; Redmond, Gabbiadini, Tadic
Player to watch out
Goals since the start of last season:
Zlatan – 74
Messi – 73
Ronaldo – 72
Still got it… pic.twitter.com/3SbOvbDDVI
— UNILAD Football (@UNILADFooty) February 24, 2017
The Swedish star striker has proved his worth in the Premier League as well and as notched up 15 goals already in the league. He has 24 goals in all competitions so far and is a firm favourite to register his name on the scoresheet in Sunday’s final.
The match will be live on Ten HD at 10:00 PM IST on Sunday, 26th February 2017.