EFL Cup final 2016/17
Wembley Stadium, London
Sunday 26th February 2017; KO 16:30 GMT
Live on Sky Sports
Manchester United will battle Southampton to win the first silverware of the season in the EFL Cup final at Wembley on Sunday afternoon. United have had a good season so far with Jose Mourinho helping to turn things around from a previous three poor seasons following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in May 2013. United have won the FA Community Shield twice and the Emirates FA Cup in the time Ferguson has spent out of football management, which is not that great based on the standards the gaffer set at the club during his nearly 27-year reign. United have been guided by David Moyes, Ryan Giggs, Louis van Gaal and now Mourinho, the latter seems to be finding his feet, getting things done and getting United ready to challenge for trophies.
Mourinho could be the first manager of United to win a major trophy in his first season in charge of the club, but the Portuguese may not stop there as United are the only team to still be in four competitions this season. United will face FC Rostov in the round of 16 in the UEFA Europa League next month, also face Chelsea in the quarter-final of the Emirates FA Cup and still find themselves in a good position in the Premier League, although it would be very unlikely for Mourinho’s side to lift the trophy at the season’s end, but they do stand a good chance of bettering their current position in the league. United may not be amazing their supporters, but they do seem to be getting the backs up f their rivals, which is a good thing.
Andre Marriner has been appointed as the referee for the Wembley final with Richard West and Stuart Burt as the assistant referees. The fourth official will be Kevin Friend.
Road To Wembley:
Manchester United commenced their participation in the EFL Cup in the third round, beating Northampton Town 3-1 with Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera and Marcus Rashford all scoring. In the fourth round, United were drawn again local rivals Manchester City, beating them 1-0 through a Juan Mata goal. In the fifth round, United faced West Ham United just days after a 1-1 draw in the Premier League, winning 4-1 with braces from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Anthony Martial. United were drawn against Hull City in the semi-final which was played over two legs. United won the first at Old Trafford with a 2-0 scoreline with Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini scoring the goals. In the second leg, United fell to a 2-1 defeat with Paul Pogba scoring United’s goal.
Southampton commenced their EFL Cup run in the third round by beating Crystal Palace 2-0 with goals from Charlie Austin and Jake Hesketh. In the fourth round, they were drawn against Sunderland, winning 1-0 with the only goal of the game scored by Sofiane Boufal. Southampton were then drawn against Arsenal beating them 2-0 with goals scored by Jordy Classie and Ryan Bertrand. The semi-final saw Claude Puel’s side draw against Liverpool beating them 1-0 in the first leg with Nathan Redmond scoring the goal, then winning by the same scoreline in the second leg, with Shane Long scoring in injury time.
League Cup History:
Manchester United have reached the League Cup final eight times in the history of the club, winning the cup on four occasions. United were beaten 2-1 by Liverpool in 1983, then were beaten 1-0 by Sheffield Wednesday in 1991, beaten 3-1 by Aston Villa in 1994 and then suffered a 2-0 defeat by Liverpool again in 2003. United won the League Cup for the first time by beating Nottingham Forest 1-0 in 1992, winning it for the second time in 2006, beating Wigan Athletic 4-0. United then won the League Cup twice on the bounce in 2009 beating Tottenham Hotspur on penalties then retaining the trophy for the first time since Nottingham Forest did in 1990 by beating Aston Villa in 2010. Southampton have made it to the League Cup final once in the history of the club, being beaten 3-2 by Nottingham Forest in 1979. This will be United’s ninth League Cup final, Southampton’s second. Liverpool have been involved in the most finals – twelve in total – winning eight.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan is the only Manchester United player that has been ruled out of the EFL Cup final on Sunday, but he has travelled to the capital for the match. Michael Carrick was another player likely to miss the match after suffering a calf injury, but he has been ruled fit for the match, as has United captain Wayne Rooney with Jose Mourinho confirming he will play a part in the match. Southampton have Sofiane Boufal, who could make the final, but Virgil van Dijk, Charlie Austin, Alex McCarthy, Matt Targett and Jeremy Pied have been ruled out. United will feel that Mkhitaryan’s injury will cost them more, but with the likes of Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford and Juan Mata able to step in, the strength-in-depth will be shown by Mourinho.
Manchester United have met Southampton 119 times in all competitions since 1897. United have won 62 matches, drawing 29 times with Southampton winning 28 matches. Southampton last beat United on the 23rd January 2016 in the Premier League with Charlie Austin scoring three minutes from time. This season, United have played Southampton once already, winning 2-0 with Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring both goals, one from the penalty spot. United were due to meet Southampton in the coming weeks, but participation in the Emirates FA Cup quarter-final meant the match was postponed for a future date which is as yet unknown. Since the year 2000, United have played Southampton 23 times with only four matches being lost and two being drawn – all in the Premier League. In the FA Cup, United have been drawn against Southampton three times since 2000, winning all three in 2005, 2009 and 2011.
Starting XI Prediction:
Manchester United 2-0 Southampton
Written by Mike Wilson