WILL DYER (@w2Dyer) gives us his take on the Sunday's EFL Cup final from Wembley as Manchester United take on Southampton.
Manchester United v Southampton | Sunday 16:30 | Sky Sports 1
Manchester United face Southampton at Wembley in their eighth League Cup final with this being only Saints’ second appearance.
The Red Devils have had a tough fixture list, trips to Ewood Park last weekend and the south of France on Wednesday night whilst Southampton have had two whole weeks to prepare.
United visited a fired up Stade Geoffroy-Guichard but left with a 1-0 victory and 4-0 aggregate win to progress through to the Last 16 of the Europa League, despite playing the last 30 minutes with 10 men.
There has been a steely mettle about them under Jose Mourinho in the last couple of months, this was displayed perfectly in a game that they could have lost by two goals and still gone through.
Devils and Saints
Jose Mourinho has a 100% success record in domestic English cup finals and he has already won the League Cup three times with Chelsea. Moreover, he has won 83% of all finals as a manager.
The Red Devils enter the game having lost just one of their last 25 games in all competitions and conceding just one goal in their last 635 minutes of football. As for team new, Phil Jones and Marcus Rojo were rested against Saint Etienne on Thursday but Michael Carrick and Henrikh Mkhitaryan picked up injuries.
Saints have bigger problems with Charlie Austin and Virgil van Dijk sidelined long term. Young Jack Stephens has done a brilliant job partnering Maya Yoshida in the centre of defence after Jose Fonte left last month but they have still leaked 10 goals in their last four games.
Southampton got back to winning ways with a 4-0 demolition job over a team they usually steamroller, Sunderland, last time out. Prior to that though they’d lost three on the bounce.
They’ve been a very streaky team all season so it suggests that a good performance could be expected again, however that momentum may have shifted with the two-week break.
Recent head-to-heads have been fairly even; in the last seven meetings there have been two draws, three wins for Man United and two for Saints. Location hasn’t been a decider either as four of those five victories have been for the away side, including two 1-0 Old Trafford wins for the Saints.
Manchester United are 4/5 with Bet365 to win this cup final in 90 minutes and I really like that price.
It’s a huge occasion for Southampton, a lot bigger than it is for United especially when you consider how much silverware is still up for grabs for Mou’s boys but, at the prices, I can’t make a case to support the underdogs.
Big occasion, Big player
Zlatan Ibrahimović has five goals in as many games. The big Swede has been talked about as Player Of The Season over the last week and you’d have to make a good case for anyone else outside of the Chelsea squad. The key to this cup final will be how Stephens and Yoshida manage to deal with him.
Ibra is a big game player. He’s won 28 trophies in a glittering career, 15 of them were cups; the KNVB Beker, one Coupe de France, two Coupe de la Ligues, the Dutch Super Cup, two Spanish Super Cups, the Italian and French Super Cups three times each, a European Super Cup, the FIFA Club World Cup.
It is however infamous that he’s not won the Champions League but you get the point.
He scored twice against Southampton back in August and I’ll happily back him to score anytime here at 13/10 with Betfair.
Age is not a problem for him yet, as is glaringly obvious from his 24 goals in a whopping 37 appearances already this season; suggesting the probability of him bagging should be closer to 8/13.