Dancing with the devil
You have to dust off your history book and look back as far as 1976 to see the last time Southampton and Manchester United met in the final of a competition. None of the starting XI’s for either team were yet born – Marcus Rashford and Josh Sims were barely even an idea in their parent’s minds.
Now, Claudio Puel is looking to do a deal with the devil as he takes Saints to their first major final in 14 years.
Better the Ibra you know
Puel’s side are the first team to reach a League Cup final without conceding any goals in the trophy’s history, after easing past Crystal Palace, Sunderland, Arsenal and Liverpool to secure their spot at Wembley.
Netting 11 goals to get to this point and finding their horns in the goal scoring stakes, United will be looking to put an end to that clean record and drag the Saints straight to hell. And there’ll be one man poised and ready to do just that.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored the winner in the Community Shield for his new side, has bagged 18 goals in 20 games across the Premier League, FA Cup and Europa League and has slotted home four in his last two games. He’s on red-hot form, scored two against Puel’s side in August and is the 7/2 favourite to score first on Sunday.
King of the League Cup
With three League Cups already under his belt with Chelsea, Mourinho has become somewhat of a master of the competition. He has the best success rate of any manager in the final of the competition, and a fourth would see him match the tally of Sir Alex Ferguson and Brian Clough.
The Devilish One heads into the final having lost just twice in eight meetings against Saints, so it’s no surprise United are 4/5 to walk up the Wembley Steps to Heaven and win within 90 minutes. United to win and Zlatan to score is 15/8 and the devil on my shoulder is telling me this is the one to back.
Saints are 15/4 to provide a shock and deliver Puel his first trophy in 16 years with a win in 90 minutes, or 2/1 to lift the trophy. They could benefit from two weeks rest after beating Sunderland on February 11, whilst United have packed in three extra games in that time-frame.