EFL Cup Final: Man United v Southampton Preview

EFL-Cup-Final-Man-United-Southampton-Preview

Our English football writer takes a look at the EFL Cup final between Man United and Southampton.

Manchester United and Southampton will square off at Wembley Stadium in the EFL Cup Final on Sunday. With the Community Shield already locked away, United will be looking to add further silverware to their trophy cabinet this season, while Southampton will be seeking their first League Cup triumph having lost their only previous final in 1979.

Jose Mourinho’s side beat the Saints 2-0 at Old Trafford in the Premier League on August 19 thanks to a brace from Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Red Devils are sixth in the league table, 18 points ahead of 11th-placed Southampton.

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EFL Cup Final | Sunday 26 February | Wembley Stadium | 18:30


To Win (90 Mins) 
Man United 15/20 | Draw 49/20 | Southampton 15/4

Manchester United
Jose Mourinho will be hoping to guide his side to their fifth EFL Cup title - and his fourth - this Sunday, their last coming in 2010 with a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa. The Red Devils overcame Northampton Town, Manchester City, West Ham and Hull City in a two-legged semi-final to get to this stage.

They advanced despite a 2-1 loss to Marco Silva’s side in the second leg of their semi-final at the KCOM Stadium, going through 3-2 on aggregate. United had been unbeaten in 17 matches in all competitions until the defeat at Hull. Since then, Mourinho's charges have gone five games unbeaten with four wins, scoring 12 goals without conceding, at the time of writing.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is enjoying his debut season with United, having scored 23 goals in 35 appearances. The former Paris Saint-Germain striker is quick, powerful, tenacious, strong, and superb at holding up the ball to link up with midfield runners. He sniffs out chances, and when opportunity presents itself, he executes to perfection.

The veteran Swede, who has been United’s Player of the Season, is determined to win more silverware. "Every trophy for me is incredible, everywhere I came I won so if I can win something here I will be super happy," he said. With the creative talents of Paul Pogba, Juan Mata and Henrikh Mkhitaryan providing chances for Zlatan, United will have goalscoring opportunities.



Southampton
Southampton make their first trip to Wembley since winning the Football League Trophy in 2010. The Saints are in their second-ever EFL Cup final – they lost 3-2 to Nottingham Forest at Wembley in 1979. It hasn’t been an easy ride to the final for Claude Puel’s side.

The Saints only came up against fellow Premier League opposition in the competition. They defeated Crystal Palace, Sunderland, Arsenal and advanced to this year’s final with an upset semi-final win over Liverpool, who are eight-time winners of the EFL Cup and were in the last four for a record 17th time. Southampton advanced to their first major final since the 2003 FA Cup with a 2-0 aggregate win over Jurgen Klopp’s side.

What's even more impressive is that they managed to keep clean sheets in all of their matches while scoring seven in the process. Although that was mainly due to their rock-solid centre-back pairing of Virgil van Dijk (injured) and Jose Fonte (now at West Ham), the Saints were able to withstand Liverpool’s attack without them in the second leg at Anfield. Maya Yoshida and Jack Stephens have been playing regularly, while the club have signed former Juventus and Barcelona defender Martin Caceres until end of the season.

In-form striker Manolo Gabbiadini believes it’s going to be very tough for the Saints against what he describes as a "very good" Manchester United team."It is going to be a tough match, because Manchester United is a very good team, but I hope that we can win the game. It will be amazing to win this trophy." he said.

The Italian has made a very impressive start to his Southampton career, scoring three goals in two appearances. The Saints will certainly need him to carry this form into the final if they are to have any chance beating Mourinho's team of superstars and secure their first ever League Cup trophy.



Verdict: Ibrahimovic to Score Anytime & Man Utd Win (15/10)
Meetings between these sides have been close in recent seasons, with United’s 2-0 league win over Southampton in August the first time this fixture was won by more than one goal since 2009.

The Red Devils have won three and lost two of their last seven clashes with the Saints. Although I’m expecting a tight affair, United are hitting their stride which should prove too strong for Southampton. Back Zlatan to Score Anytime & Man United to win. 


Written by Chadley Nagel @ 
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