Victory in the EFL Cup might not be on high every manager’s agenda, but the 2017 EFL Cup could provide Jose Mourinho or Claude Puel with a major trophy in their first season in charge at their new clubs.
The record of the two teams in major trophies is polarised to say the least, with United’s trophy cabinet packed full of them, whilst it’s 41 years-since Southampton claimed the 1976 FA Cup Final, their one and only major trophy. Ironically, Southampton’s opponents that day were Manchester United, and the Saints won via an 83rd minute goal by Bobby Stokes.
Manchester United have won 4 EFL Cup Titles (under its various guises) and victory on Sunday will see them become the joint second most winners with Chelsea and Aston Villa. They enjoyed success in 1992, 2006, 2009 and 2010, whilst Jose Mourinho has also won 3 EFL Cups.
United have defeated Northampton Town, Manchester City, West Ham and Hull City on route, but they have several injury-worries ahead of the final, with Wayne Rooney, Phil Jones, Michael Carrick and Henrikh Mkhitaryan all expected to miss the final.
Southampton have appeared in one previous EFL Cup Final in 1979, losing out 3-2 to the then mighty Nottingham Forrest. However, there’s no arguing the Saints fully deserve their place in the final this season on the back of victories over Crystal Palace, Sunderland, Arsenal and Liverpool. Southampton’s main injury worries are in defence, and Puel may be forced to recall Martin Caceres, formerly of Juventus, who would be making his return from a year-long tendon injury.
Recent Head-To-Heads And Form
Manchester United beat Southampton 2-0 at Old Trafford earlier in the season, and have won their last 2 away games against them. However, Southampton won their 2 previous games at Old Trafford 1-0.
United arrive here on the back of 5 straight victories, though Southampton have a bit more class at their best than St Etienne, Watford, Blackburn or Leicester. However, they’ve been very hit and miss in recent weeks with victories against Sunderland, Leicester and Liverpool and defeats against West Ham, Swansea and Arsenal.
It’s a game that could revolve around both team’s injury problems, with the loss of Mkhitaryan meaning United could play more statistically than in recent matches, though that will be a blessing to the Southampton defence.
Victory for either team would be no surprise. However, with only one team scoring in 7 of Southampton’s last 9 games, and only one team scoring in 5 of Manchester United’s last 6 games – the bet must be for both teams not to score.