Manchester United and Southampton will be facing each other at Wembley as they look to win the first piece of silverware this season. The Saints pulled off a major upset when they defeated Liverpool over a 2-legged semi-final and set up the clash with the Red Devils. Claude Puel’s side will be confident despite facing such a difficult opposition as they have the confidence of a win over Liverpool over two legs of football and add to that their latest Premier League match saw them trounce Sunderland 4-0. While the result was much needed for the Saints, it will also have given them added confidence to take on the Manchester heavyweight.
Let us take a look at 3 key battles which will have a bearing on the result between the two.
ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC VS MAYA YOSHIDA
A mismatch of sorts but a battle which the Southampton defender has to win at any costs if his team is to have any chance of keeping United at bay. Southampton’s defence has been hit hard in recent weeks with Jose Fonte leaving for West Ham and Virgil Van Dijk missing a large chunk of matches through injury. The Saints were one of the most solid sides in the initial months but the double blow has made them ditch the solidity and look to go on the attack. Yoshida will have a tough time containing the Swede with Ibrahimovic scoring 24 goals already this season.
MANOLO GABBIADINI VS ERIC BAILEY
The Italian has made a terrific start to life in England and has scored 3 goals in 2 games. Southampton seem to have made the right decision as far as solving their conundrum up front was concerned and now will be their main weapon as far as attacking threat is concerned.
United have generally been solid at the back and will be expected to dominate the Southampton attackers but Gabbiadini will back himself to cause problems for the likes of Smalling and Bailey.
PAUL POGBA VS ORIOL ROMEU
The world’s most expensive player will be expected to rule the roost in midfield and will look to dominate proceedings at the centre of the park. He has settled in after a shaky start and is slowly getting into his groove. Romeu will be expected to provide a defensive shield for the back line as well as try to make a mark in the centre of the pitch which will be crucial in determining which team has a greater say on proceedings.