EFL Cup Final Preview: Manchester United vs Southampton - In-form Manchester United face dangerous outsiders

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Mourinho’s men hoping to turn excellent run of results into February silverware

Today, the first piece of silverware in the English season will be handed out at Wembley when the EFL Cup Final is contested by Manchester United and Southampton. United have lost only once in their last 26 matches but The Saints won’t be overawed by today’s opponents having having beaten The Red Devils twice in the pair’s last 4 meetings.

Outstanding creative midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan misses out for United but Michael Carrick should be fit after an injury scare against St Etienne. Saints defensive rock Virgil van Dijk is unavailable through injury and Claude Puel will have to shuffle his pack and it’s for this reason that Martin Cáceres is in line for a debut.

Mourinho’s superb record in finals, coupled with the extra star quality in his squad, make United justified favourites to lift the trophy tonight.

Team News                                                                 

Manchester United

Injured: Jones, Mkhitaryan

Late fitness test: Carrick

Likely starting XI (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Smalling, Blind; Carrick, Herrera; Mata, Pogba, Martial; Zlatan  

Southampton

Injured: van Dijk, Pied, Targett, McCarthy, Austin

Doubtful: Hesketh, Cáceres, Boufal

Likely starting XI (4-2-3-1): Forster; Soares, Yoshida, Stephens, Bertrand; Romeu, Davis; Ward-Prowse, Tadic, Redmond; Gabbiadini

Key Players

When Manchester United shelled out a world record fee for Paul Pogba, fans impatiently waited for a visible impact from the Frenchman in big games. Gradually, the ex-Juventus man has settled into his role and started to turn out mature, eye-catching displays from the centre of the park. His almost telepathic understanding with prolific and evergreen striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic could be a factor that turns today’s tide in favour of José Mourinho’s side.

Cédric Soares was outstanding at Euro 2016 as Portugal went on to be unlikely winners. Now that his compatriot José Fonte has left the Saints and the outstanding Virgil van Dijk is out injured, Cédric’s role under Claude Puel is even more important to the Southampton cause. The excellent right back will likely have to contend with the pace and power of Anthony Martial for most of this encounter but his excellent crossing ability will certainly test the Manchester United centre backs and indeed the defensive solidity of makeshift United left back Daley Blind. Versatile wide man Nathan Redmond will also make sure that Blind doesn’t have an easy afternoon.

Key Match Stats

  • Manchester United have only been defeated once in their last 26 matches in all competitions.
  • Southampton have not won any silverware since the 1978 FA Cup.
  • Southampton have won only 1 of their last 4 matches.
  • In their last 4 meetings, Southampton and Manchester United have each won 2 encounters.
  • José Mourinho is gunning for his 4th League Cup trophy after winning 3 at Chelsea.

Verdict & Picks

ClickaBet odds of 3.54 on a draw in regulation time should be worth a punt in a final between in-form Manchester United and defensively secure Southampton.   

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