All the talking points ahead of next weekend's League Cup final

Manchester United meet Southampton in the EFL Cup final on Sunday with the first major silverware of the English football season on the line.

Here are some of the talking points ahead of the Wembley encounter.

Jose's League Cup hat-trick

The EFL Cup, it its various sponsored guises, has offered a route to trophies for Mourinho ever since his arrival into English football.

It brought the 'Special One' his first success having taken over at Chelsea for his first stint, and he collected another winners' medal having returned to Stamford Bridge.

Could he do the same thing at United? With the Premier League title seemingly out of reach, this could still prove to be the first in a hat-trick of trophies with the Red Devils still also alive in the FA Cup and Europa League.

Puel's chance to eclipse predecessors

Mourinho's counterpart, Claude Puel, was not in an envious position when he took over at St Mary's in the summer.

Southampton had developed a reputation as a selling club and, with Ronald Koeman's poaching by Everton following Mauricio Pochettino's decision to quit for Tottenham having both had successful stints in charge, the pressure was on Puel.

But the quietly-spoken Frenchman has again steadied the ship and could now deliver a first piece of major silverware in over 30 years - something his immediate predecessors cannot claim to have achieved.

Rooney's last chance?

United captain Wayne Rooney has seen his influence on the pitch at Old Trafford slide in recent seasons and he is now a bit-part player for Mourinho.

He has been nursing an injury of late but this could provide the last chance for him to lift a trophy as the leader of the Red Devils, even if he does not make it into the starting XI at Wembley.

Instant impact for Gabbiadini

Southampton's £15million January signing from Napoli has hit the ground running.

Manolo Gabbiadini came in from Napoli with Puel desperate to add a natural goalscorer to his ranks and he has hit three goals in his first two Premier League appearances.

He could instantly write his name into the history books of Southampton if he can score the goals that fire the club to the EFL Cup at United's expense.

Five-star Zlatan

United's newest talisman, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, is more likely than Rooney to be involved from the start on Sunday.

The 35-year-old scored his 24th goal of the season in Sunday's FA Cup win over Blackburn and he will be going in search of a major cup winners' medal in a fifth country.

He has already succeeded in Holland, Italy, Spain and France and, having scored in the Community Shield win in August, he will he hoping to add the EFL Cup to an ever-growing list of accolades.

League Cup final in numbers

23 - the number of teams who have won the League Cup.

36 - teams who have appeared in finals.

8 - Liverpool have won the competition eight times, the most in its history. Their 12 final appearances is also a record.

4 - United have won the competition four times and this is their ninth final in all. Southampton have appeared in only one previous final, losing 3-2 to Nottingham Forest in 1979.

4 - if fit, this will be United captain Wayne Rooney's fourth final. The record is six, held by Ian Rush with Liverpool and Emile Heskey with Leicester, Liverpool and Aston Villa. Rush holds the record of five wins.

3 - there have been three different trophies, with the current - and original - model used from the competition's inauguration in 1960 until 1981 and again from the 1991 final onwards. In between times, then-sponsors the Milk Marketing Board and Littlewoods had their own trophies made.

5 - the biggest winning margin in a final, when Swansea beat Bradford 5-0 in 2013, and also the most goals in a one-leg final (on several occasions). West Brom's 5-3 aggregate win over West Ham in 1966 is the highest-scoring final all told, excluding penalty shoot-outs.

4 - four finals have gone to penalties, including United's win over Tottenham in 2009. Liverpool won in 2001 and 2012 but lost to Manchester City last season.

17 - the total number of finals to have been all square after 90 minutes. Eight have been settled in extra time and five required replays, most recently in 1997.

50 - Wembley first staged the League Cup final 50 years ago, in 1967, when QPR - then of the third tier - beat West Brom 3-2.


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