EFL Cup final: Manchester United, Southampton clash Sunday at Wembley

For the 57th time, a EFL Cup champion will be crowned on Sunday as Manchester United and Southampton meet at Wembley Stadium (11;25 a.m. ET, Bein Sports).

Man in the middle: Andre Marriner draws the plum assignment of the weekend. He’s also done an FA Cup final, so now he has the matching set.

A divergence in history: Southampton’s last trip to England’s national stadium was a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final in 2010. For the record, the Saints were runners up in the League Cup back in 1979. United, on the other hand, are four-time winners of this competition.

Team news: Henrikh Mkhitaryan will miss out for the Red Devils with a hamstring injury and Phil Jones is an injury doubt with a sore foot. United manager Jose Mourinho has also said that Wayne Rooney will also be involved.

Southampton should get Sofiane Boufal back from an ankle injury, but Charlie Austin, Virgil van Dijk, Jeremy Pied, Matt Targett and Alex McCarth are all out with injuries.

They said it, part one: “When you have a taste of good things, you want to repeat it. When you get used to winning, when you don’t win, you miss it. You don’t accept not winning and you are always chasing for more success, so I think it’s a good thing for the players if we manage to win another trophy. We all know the history of this club, that football is changing, that it’s much harder than it was before, but last season was a very difficult season for the club and players, but together with their manager (Louis van Gaal), they managed to win (the FA Cup). It was a good taste for them, so we have to try.” — Mourinho

They said it, part two: “There is a lot of attention on (defender) Jack (Stephens), and for all these young players. They must stay calm and just focus about what they can have to do. But they must not just think about a good result or a bad result. The most important is to play this game.” — Southampton manager Claude Puel

Analysis: It sounds silly, but having experience in big matches matter. And even though this is the lesser of the two English cup competitions, it’s still a big occasion.

Mourinho’s defense has been solid, allowing only one goal in the last seven matches in all competitions. And with Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic meshing well on offense, the Red Devils have to be the favorites.

Still, the Saints are dangerous. New signing Manolo Gabbiadini has been a revelation, and Puel’s squad has the shape and discipline to frustrate United in attack.

Prediction: A typical cup final, cagey and tight, with United nicking a goal to win, 1-0.

About Randy Capps

South Carolina native, Fulham apologist, writer and sports fanatic.