Southampton (+410) vs Manchester United (+105), Draw (270)
Manchester United and Southampton take to Wembley Stadium for the final of the League Cup on Sunday, February 26. It’s been a wild ride for both teams, full of upsets and narrow victories, and now it all comes down to one game in London.
Southampton may be 11th in the Premier League at the moment, but they’ve been able to hold their own against some of the toughest teams in the League Cup. They took on Liverpool in the semifinals and defeated them 1-0 in both legs. Most of the coverage focussed on Liverpool’s failure, which has become a regular story this season, but let’s not forget to give Southampton credit for two spectacular performances.
In the first leg, the young Nathan Redmond put Southampton one goal up in the 20th minute and the Reds failed to respond. In fact, Southampton were unlucky to walk away with only one goal. If it wasn’t for two huge saves from Loris Karius, Redmond could have picked up a hat trick.
Liverpool came into the second leg knowing they had to play an aggressive game. And Southampton, only having to defend their lead, were more than happy to sit back and play on the counter-attack. But apart from a few half-chances, Liverpool offered nothing. After 90 minutes, the game was tied 0-0, which would have been enough to see Southampton through. But Shane Long put one through in added time to guarantee Southampton the victory.
Manchester United had a relatively easy path leading up to the final. Their only real challenge came in the fourth round when they took on Manchester City, beating them 1-0. Their semifinal games against Hull City should have been a walk in the park for the stacked Man U lineup, but they lost the second leg and scraped through with a 3-2 win on aggregate.
The League Cup may not carry the same level of prestige as some of the other cups, but it means a lot to both Man United and Southampton. United have had a woeful season, despite having one of the most expensive rosters in the world. They’ll want to salvage what they can, and an EFL Cup is at least something.
Southampton have only won one major trophy in their club’s history – the FA Cup in 1976. This is as good a chance as Southampton will get to finally add to their trophy cabinet. A win would be a monumental event in the club’s history.
Neutrals would love to see a fairy-tale moment for Southampton, but their chances aren’t looking too good. Manchester United are in great form at the moment and are currently undefeated in their last 16 league games. Cheer for Southampton, but bet on United.
Pick: Manchester United (+105)