Both Manchester United and Newcastle United are riding the crest of their respective waves right now. These two famous Uniteds are back where they believe they belong, at the summit of English football, contesting a domestic cup final for the first time since 1999. BestOfBets football writer Dominic Booth previews the game.
This weekend’s Carabao Cup final marks a line in the sand for both teams and their charismatic managers. You suspect whoever holds aloft the three-handled silver cup at Wembley come Sunday evening will look back on the win as the moment where success re-entered the DNA of their club.
Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho used to extol the virtues of winning the League Cup as a confidence-booster for bigger and better trophies.
It hasn’t been so long since Manchester United got their hands on silverware, but the club are still suffering their longest trophy drought in more than 40 years. Mourinho’s 2017 Europa League triumph feels like a lifetime ago, and for many members for Erik ten Hag’s current squad, winning a trophy in the red of United would be a novelty. Bruno Fernandes, for example, has gone trophy less throughout his time in Manchester so far.
The Portuguese playmaker has been back to his best form recently and he’ll no doubt revel in the pride of leading out United at Wembley. He’s 11/1 to bag the first goal, which is a very decent price.
Having to play a high-energy and tense European tie against Barcelona on Thursday night was perfection preparation for a Sunday cup final for United. But don’t rule out the momentum and good feeling that the 4-3 aggregate win over Xavi’s side would have generated within Ten Hag’s squad.
They are, justifiably, the bookmakers’ favourites to win on Sunday, 6/5 to get the job done in 90 minutes, 8/13 to lift the trophy by any means necessary.
Newcastle know they are outsiders, but Eddie Howe’s side have a swagger about them, which has served them well this season. They have only lost twice in the Premier League, having held United 0-0 at Old Trafford earlier in the season.
Bruno Guimaraes might have been sent off in the Carabao Cup semi-final second leg against Southampton, but he’s served his suspension and, along with Kieran Trippier, will be a vital player for Howe’s side at Wembley. The Brazilian is 18/1 to find the net before anyone else on Sunday.
Expect a deafening sound to be made by the travelling Geordies, too, who will come down in their droves in the hope of seeing a first Newcastle trophy win since 1955. Their side may be 13/5 to win the game in 90 minutes and 20/13 to lift the trophy, but the Magpies’ fans won’t be short of belief.
Everything is set up for a mouthwatering cup final on Sunday and it will be fascinating to see whether Ten Hag’s men are exhausted from their Barcelona excursions, or whether Newcastle will crumble under the pressure of a final – as they did so often in the 1990s.
This, however, is a different Newcastle United. Manchester United, on the other hand, would love to get back to the side they were in the 90s. This isn’t one to miss.
90 minutes odds:
Manchester United 6/5