EFL Cup Final: Big guns on show
Frank Monkhouse | 26 February 2017
Ibrahimovic vs Gabbiadini
Manchester United aim to continue their love affair with the EFL Cup on Sunday afternoon when meeting fellow finalists Southampton at Wembley. There’s little more exciting in the game than a major cup final, and punters look set for a thrilling contest here.
United enjoy a proud history in this format, going in with a record of four wins and four runners-up medals. They were last seen lifting the trophy aloft in 2010, and victory on Sunday would move them to number two in the cup’s most successful list, behind leaders Liverpool who have their name etched in silver eight times, with four near misses.
In the past The Red Devils – 3/4 favourites with Coral to win the match in 90-minutes – have relied heavily on the input of Sir Alex Ferguson, Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney to get over the line. Two of those big names are history, with Rooney looking to be on his way out of the exit door too.
Ibrahimovic in stunning form
United fans can take plenty of confidence from recent form however and Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the star of the show when putting Southampton to the sword on league duty at Old Trafford back in August. A goal either side of half-time, the second from the penalty spot, won the day, and the super Swede has also been in stunning form this month, scoring five goals in six starts.
That run includes a match-winning hat-trick over St Etienne in the Europa League first leg, and the 35-year-old must be taken seriously in pre-match goal scorer bets. Coral are handing out 7/2 on him scoring the first goal of the final, while more reserved punters can back him to get on the scoresheet any time at 13/10. Fancy another hat-trick? Our 25/1 is sure to have you celebrating the big day in style.
Saints only shot at success
It has been a somewhat disappointing season for Southampton, by their usual high standards, and they were knocked out of the FA Cup by Arsenal courtesy of a 5-0 hammering in front of their own fans recently. They can also be found down in 11th-place in the Premier League, only 10 points above the relegation zone.
Claude Puel’s men have nothing to fear in terms of keeping their place in the top-flight for next season, but everyone at the club will be disappointed that they have not been able to build on last season’s top-six finish. Southampton do have plenty to be proud of in this format however, not least when beating Liverpool in the semi-finals when written off by just about everyone. They are 15/4 with us to beat Man Utd in 90-minutes.
Gabbiadini a great price to score
In Italian marksman Manolo Gabbiadini, they look to have uncovered a real gem too. The 25-year-old, a £14m purchase from Napoli, arriving in January on a four-and-a-half year deal, has certainly hit the ground running in England. Getting a debut goal in a 3-1 loss against West Ham earlier this month, he will arrive at the national stadium having scored three goals in two games during February, helping himself to a double against Sunderland last time.
The Italian to light up the final with a goal at any point looks a great call at 11/5, while the 13/2 about him breaking the deadlock will be difficult for value hunters to ignore. Gabbiadini to delight fans with a hat-trick can be backed at 90/1, and who could write him off with any real confidence? He scored one in his first game, two in his second. Will it be three in his third?