Saturday, 25 February 2017

EFL Cup final preview: United v Southampton

Jose Mourinho leads United into their eighth League Cup final on Sunday at Wembley with a record-equalling feat at stake. 

The Reds boss has never lost in the final of this competition having won it three times across his two spells at Chelsea - 2005, 2007 and 2015. 
A fourth with United would match managerial greats Brian Clough and our own Sir Alex and seal a fifth success in this competition for the club.

United are boosted by the availability of Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney also looks set to feature after he confirmed he's staying at United. 

Jose said: "The important thing is not myself, it is the club and the wonderful fans, so we want to win this cup for them.
"Wayne did it (issue the statement) in the right moment, he was not ready to play against Saint-Etienne but no doubts he is involved in this game.
"Carrick is available, he is clever, very experienced and left the pitch in the right moment with a little feeling - Mkhitaryan and Jones are out so let's see and I can decide tomorrow.
"All the squad want to play in this final but it is not possible so it is a tough selection for me."

Southampton have reached Wembley without conceding a goal but will be without two key players for the final: injured captain and star man Virgil Van Dijk (ankle) and top scorer Charlie Austin (shoulder). 

January signing Manolo Gabbiadini has scored twice in three games and will likely start up front with former Juve centre-back and free transfer Martin Caceres also set to feature. 

United have seen off Northampton Town, cross-town rivals City, West Ham United and Hull to get this far.

Saints, meanwhile, have faced top flight opponents every step of the way, having overcome Palace, Sunderland, Arsenal and Liverpool in a memorable semi-final to reach a second ever League Cup final. 

Their first came in 1979 (2-3 to Nottingham Forest), and they also ended up on the losing side in their last appearance in a final, the 2003 FA Cup against Arsenal.

If they're looking for an omen, however, then their only previous cup success should offer them one.
41 years ago, as a Second Division side, Saints lifted the 1976 FA Cup having beaten United 1-0 in one of the biggest final shocks in the competition's history. 

Form guide: United D W W W W W Southampton W W L L L W
Match odds: United 4/5 Draw 5/1 Southampton 17/4
Referee: Andre Marriner 

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