Backing Southampton to beat Man United could be best bet of the weekend

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Not many punters have got behind it yet, but we reckon there could be some serious value in backing Southampton to lift the EFL Cup at Wembley this Sunday.

Of course, they’d have to beat an in-form Manchester United to do that. But that challenge may have got a whole lot easier over the last 24 hours.

Why? Because the 4/5 favourites (to win in 90 minutes) might be without three key men.

Wayne Rooney was left out of United’s 20-man squad which travelled to St Etienne this week, and we’re yet to receive full confirmation that he’ll be fit for Sunday’s game.

While he’s hardly in the form of his life right now, he’s undoubtedly a huge character to have in the team, with the experience of playing in no less than 12 major cup finals in his career.

It’s unlikely he’d start even if he was fit, but if Jose Mourinho isn’t able to call upon United’s all-time record goalscorer at all, then his chances of winning already look less likely.

But it doesn’t end there for the four-time League Cup winners.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan was taken off after just 25 minutes in France after picking up an injury. And while plenty of attention has been on summer signings Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in recent weeks, the Armenia international has arguably been United’s standout player – certainly since the turn of the year.

He’ll be sorely missed and hard to replace this weekend, but news that the former Borussia Dortmund man will miss Sunday’s Wembley showdown will be music to the ears of Saints fans.

And just when United fans thought it couldn’t any worse, there’s a chance Michael Carrick will miss the game too.

Like Mkhitaryan, Carrick’s night in France was also cut short by injury – and his loss may well be the biggest of the lot.

While it’s taken £89m man Pogba a while to settle, playing alongside an experienced and defensive-minded player like Carrick has played a huge part in the former Juventus man’s progress this season.

Quite simply, United don’t have another player like Carrick in their set-up, which means they’ll have to change their approach on Sunday.

It’ll be interesting to see exactly how Pogba gets on without Carrick next to him.

Of course, there’s a slim chance all three could recover in time for kick-off on Sunday afternoon. But that seems unlikely – certainly in the case of Mkhitaryan and Carrick.

After the St Etienne game, Mourinho said he believes the pair have ‘no chance’ of being fit for the trip to Wembley.

So what does that mean for United’s chances of lifting the trophy?

They remain the 2/5 favourites to do exactly that, while 4/5 says they win in normal time.

But we’re far more tempted by the 15/8 on offer for their opponents to win the EFL Cup, with the 4/1 on Southampton winning in 90 minutes also worth considering.

Click here for a full list of EFL Cup final odds.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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Alex Apati

Having graduated from Birmingham City University with a degree in Creative Writing with English, Alex joined the News team following a three year stint working for Ladbrokes behind the counter. When he's not watching darts, he's throwing them. Failing that you'll find him YouTubeing Thierry Henry's greatest Arsenal goals.