Toon Army to win first major trophy for decades
Manchester United will be looking to get their first trophy under the management of Erik ten Hag when the Red Devils take on a Newcastle United side without their two main goalkeepers in the EFL Cup final at Wembley on Sunday afternoon. A win for the favourites would mean silverware after a six-year barren spell, but the wait has been much, much longer on Tyneside. Read our preview here:
After two of their Brazilian stars Fred and Antony saw off Barcelona in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday, ten Hag's men will be on a high, though considerably less rested than their opponents. Of more concern though is that Marcus Rashford, the central pillar of so much of United's renaissance this season, could be out injured. Casemiro will be back in defensive midfield following a domestic ban, and the head coach is likely to risk both Luke Shaw and Diogo Dalot in the full-back positions, despite the pair not being fully fit. Shaw could have Jadon Sancho for company further up the flank for what could be quite a potent combination.
Karius to glory
Naturally, the biggest story from a black and white perspective is the suspension of goalkeeper Nick Pope after the England international was sent off early on in their 2-0 home defeat to Liverpool last weekend. In a further quirk, Martin Dúbravka, who would've been his replacement, had a loan spell earlier this year at Old Trafford, so is cup-tied. Loris Karius has not had any action in 2022/2023 for the first team, so much of the focus will be on how he copes with the big occasion after high profile errors in previous games. Elsewhere, like Casemiro, Bruno Guimarães is back to boost his side's midfield, though Joelinton and Joe Willock both face late fitness tests.
Though things seem stacked in Manchester United's favour, the importance of the occasion is certainly more keenly felt by Newcastle United, and they are the fresher side. Those factors could combine for a first domestic trophy for Eddie Howe's troops since 1955 - Casumo have odds of 2.45 for that to happen by any means.