Forty-one years ago Southampton shocked Manchester United by winning the FA Cup final with a 1-0 triumph at Wembley. This remains the south coast club’s only major honour so Claude Puel’s 2017 vintage have the chance to make real history by beating Jose Mourinho’s version of United.
United are starting to resemble the juggernaut of all Mourinho’s champion sides so they start as firm favourites. The Portuguese also has a fine pedigree in the competition, having won it three previous times. It seems unlikely, then, that Southampton can repeat their 1976 feat. But this is a final and, as they proved, anything can occur.
It is also the first trophy that Jose Mourinho won when he arrived in England as Chelsea manager in the 2004/05 season, going on to win the EFL Cup twice more with the Blues, with victories in 2006/07 and 2014/15.
Southampton manager Claude Puel does have pedigree when it comes to winning trophies, claiming the Ligue 1 title as Monaco manager, but the Frenchman suffered heartbreak in the French League Cup final in 2001 – losing 2-1 to Lyon in extra time.
Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick are available for today’s final, but Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be absent for Manchester United. United captain Rooney missed the midweek Europa League trip to St Etienne as he returned to fitness, but has been confirmed as part of the squad heading to Wembley.
Midfielder Carrick has overcome a calf complaint sustained in France but Mkhitaryan’s hamstring injury means he is out. Phil Jones is a doubt due to a foot issue, but Ander Herrera returns to the fold after serving a ban in the Europa League match. Martin Caceres and Sofiane Boufal (ankle) are hoping to be included in the Southampton squad, with the Uruguay defender potentially making his debut after his recent move to the Saints as a free agent. However, Virgil van Dijk, Charlie Austin, Alex McCarthy, Matt Targett and Jeremy Pied all miss out through injury.