Southampton and Man Utd fans will walk up Wembley Way this Sunday to battle it out for the 1st trophy on offer in the English season. Both sides will obviously be desperate to lift the cup but for varying reasons…
We will start on the south coast with the impressively run Southampton. Claude Puel makes a cup final within months of taking over from Ronald Koeman and with The Saints not having lifted a major honour since 1971, can immediately write his name into St Mary’s folklore.
The occasion feels like a culmination of years of re-building and re-structuring of a club who found themselves in League One just 7 years ago. Season after season the fans have seen their players sold or managers poached leaving them to worry about slipping back down the leagues. Worry they will not as they arrive in London with the hope of leaving with the EFL Cup in their possession.
Head a few hundred miles north and you will arrive at the global giant that is Manchester United, now managed by serial trophy collector Jose Mourinho. A victory this weekend buys the special one breathing space whilst he attempts to steady a ship that has been in choppy waters since Sir Alex vacated his throne.
With league position seemingly stuck at 6th for the time being, he’ll want to add to LVG’s FA Cup from last term. A win would leave The Reds holding both domestic knockout competition titles and firing a warning shot that they are still a force despite lack of serious league challenge.
Zlatan and Pogba would want that winners’ medal draped around their necks to assist in justifying their existence as well as going a little way to repaying the significant outlays the club made to secure their signatures. All-time record scorer Wayne Rooney can also add to his deserved legendary status by adding an extra number to the honours column before any departure in the seemingly near future.
So who is going to win on the day?
After what is sure to be a hard fought contest, we are opting for a Man Utd victory! Southampton will miss their leader and chief defensive organiser Virgil Van Dijk too much at the back, asking stand in centre halves to deal with a free scoring Ibrahimovic is something Puel will no doubt be having sleepless nights over.
The Saints however will trouble a rocky Old Trafford defence with the various attacking threats they possess right throughout their squad. The tricky Tadic, to the menace of Shane Long (perhaps off the bench) will keep Smalling and his troops on their toes.
As usual, in these monumental games, the 1st goal will be crucial but we feel Man Utd will win the key battles all over the pitch and emerge victorious.
Prediction – Southampton 1-2 Man Utd
EFL Cup image sourced from; cup.efl.com