Predictions

EFL Cup Final

The 2016-17 EFL Cup final sees Manchester United play Southampton with the winners succeeding Manchester City as champions of the English Football League.

 

Road to Wembley

 

Both sides entered at the third round stage due to being involved with the Europa League.

 

Manchester United sailed through their third round tie at Northampton. They then comfortably seeing off Manchester City and West Ham at home to reach the semi finals. They breezed past Hull in the first leg before slipping to a 2-1 defeat in the return leg but reached the final 3-2 on aggregate.

  • R3 – Northampton 1-3 Man U
  • R4 – Man U 1-0 Man City
  • QF – Man U 4-1 West Ham
  • SF 1st leg – Man U 2-0 Hull
  • SF 2nd leg – Hull 2-1 Man U

 

Southampton saw off tricky opposition in Crystal Palace and Sunderland en route to a quarter final clash at Arsenal. The Saints battered the Gunners to secure a semi final clash with Liverpool. Both legs of the semi finished 1-0 to give Southampton a 2-0 win on aggregate.

 

  • R3 – Southampton 2-0 Crystal Palace
  • R4 – Southampton 1-0 Sunderland
  • R5 – Arsenal 0-2 Southampton
  • SF 1st leg – Southampton 1-0 Liverpool
  • SF 2nd leg – Liverpool 0-1 Southampton

 

Team News

 

Manchester United’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan has sustained a hamstring injury and will miss the game. Michael Carrick has recovered from his calf injury whilst Phil Jones is going to face a late fitness test after his foot injury.

 

Wayne Rooney is set to play a part in proceedings at Wembley after confirming he isn’t off to China.

 

Southampton will be without Virgil van Dijk for the trip to Wembley. Martin Caceres  could therefore make his Saints’ debut in such a massive match.

 

Striker, Charlie Austin is still out injured but Sofiane Boufal could make his return at Wembley. Goalkeeper, Alex McCarthy is out injured with a hamstring injury alongside Matt Targett. Jeremy Pied will also miss the showcase match with a knee injury.

 

Form

 

The Red Devils have won their last five fixtures in all competitions. This record sees them enter the cup final as favourites but have played three games in the last fortnight compared to Southampton’s none.

 

Claude Puel’s underdogs have only two wins from the same period, (W2, L3). They however will of had 15 days off come Sunday. Could this count in their favour if extra time and penalties are required?

 

Prediction

 

The match should be lively and with a fortnight to prepare, there will be no excuses if Southampton fail to show up and deliver despite being underdogs.

 

Tottenham Hotspur was the first team to reach the League Cup final without conceding a goal en route. They however lost the final 3-1 to Liverpool and Southampton will have to be wary of that tomorrow.

 

One omen in the underdogs’ favour is that since December 2014, the winner of this tie has gone; Manchester United, Southampton, Manchester United, Southampton, Manchester United.

 

The pattern suggests that its the Saints’ turn to win but that pattern covers only their league meetings. Could this cup meeting see the pattern end with United lifting the trophy and making it two consecutive wins over the Saints?

 

If they’re to do that, they better get it done in the 90 minutes given their heavy schedule. Should extra time and penalties be needed then Southampton will have to be fancied for the win. I can see them making the fitness advantage count and lifting their first cup since the 1976 FA Cup, also against United at the Old Wembley Stadium.

 

Prediction: Manchester United 1-2 Southampton AET

Result: Manchester United 3-2 Southampton

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