Who Will Prevail in the EFL Cup Final?
Last updated: February 2, 2017 by Leon Marshal
On Sunday, 26th February, the destination of the EFL Cup will be decided during a showpiece final at Wembley. This will be the first, major domestic tournament to be concluded this season, while it also offers Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho a chance to claim his own piece of history.
More specifically, he will be looking to claim his fourth League Cup medal, joining a select club including Brian Clough and former United boss Sir Alex Ferguson in the process. Standing in his way is a talented Southampton side, however, who boast tremendous quality and always seem to reserve the best performances for the big occasions.
A Form Guide: Who Are the Favourites to Win?
In terms of the early odds, Manchester United have emerged as the clear favourites. They can currently be backed at an average price of 11/12, while the Saints are available at 18/5, although these odds are likely to change as the two side’s form endures peaks and troughs during the coming weeks. There are obvious reasons why the Reds are the initial favourites, however, starting with approach of their Portuguese manager.
Ever since his arrival in England as the Chelsea manager in 2004, Mourinho has placed a huge stock in the League Cup. While other elite managers have disregarded the tournament and used it as a vehicle to field youngsters, the Portuguese managed to win it twice during his initial stint at Stamford Bridge before lifting the trophy again as part of a double in 2015. Now he is closing on a fourth title, thanks primarily to his willingness to play strong sides that are packed with international class and experience (even during the earlier rounds).
The form guide also hints at a Reds’ victory, with the semi-final, second leg defeat to Hull City their first in 18 competitive matches. In contrast, Southampton have showcased mixed form in recent times, with two hugely impressive performances during the semi-final against Liverpool coming amid a run of four defeats in five league games. The Saints were also thrashed 5-0 at home by Arsenal in the fourth round of the FA Cup, highlighting a lack of depth and the lack of consistency that has seen them slip to 11th place in the EPL.
Our Verdict: The Reds to Win, But Only Just
The Saints’ approach to the FA Cup also underlines their commitment to winning the EFL Cup, however, while there is no doubting the quality that Southampton possess. They were also outstanding in dispatching Liverpool at the semi-final stage, winning 2-0 on aggregate but creating enough chances to have made the result even more comfortable.
Given the depth of United’s squad and the improvements that they have made under Mourinho, we would make them slight favourites to win and claim their first trophy of the season. The fact that the Portuguese is also chasing his own piece of history will give the Reds and edge, and one that they should capitalise on at Wembley.