Tue, Jan 10, 2:32pm by Senior Writer
Manchester United coach Jose Mourinho is looking to continue his strong affinity for the League Cup when he guides his team into the first leg of their semi-final showdown against Hull City at Old Trafford on Wednesday morning (AEDT).
Mourinho led Chelsea to the League Cup title on three occasions, and hopes to secure a spot in the final against either Liverpool or Southampton, on February 27 (AEDT) with a win over the team who are currently rock-bottom in the Premiership, with the second leg to take place on January 27.
Understandably, United are short-priced favourites to win the first leg in regulation at $1.18, with Hull at $17 and the draw is at $5. They are even shorter to qualify for the final at $1.10, with Hull at $6.
Punters are expecting a comfortable night for Mourinho and his players, with a 2-0 Manchester United win the most favoured scoreline at $5.50, while 3-0 is $6.50.
“For me, Wembley is Wembley — I want to go there as many times as I can,” Mourinho said when asked about the prospect of qualifying for the final.
Significantly, Mourinho will bring back star trio Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David De Gea, all of whom sat out the 4-0 win over Reading in the FA Cup last weekend.
Ibrahimovic has scored nine goals in his past ten games and is $3.20 favourite to score the first goal in this match with teenage star Marcus Rashford at $4 having broken a 17-match run without scoring by netting a brace against Reading.
Wayne Rooney, who joined Sir Bobby Charlton as the leading scorer in the Red Devils’ history when he scored in that match, is $4.50 to break that record with the first goal on Wednesday morning.
Hull are winless in their past seven in the Premier League, – a barren spell which led to Mike Phelan departing – but with new coach Marco Silva in charge, were able to get past Swansea in the FA Cup. Silva has drawn understandable comparisons with Mourinho, given they are both from Portugal.
It’s worth noting that Hull have never beaten Manchester United and of their nine matches since 2008, eight have resulted in a United win.
Thursday morning’s clash brings a little more intrigue with Southampton hosting Liverpool at St Mary’s.
The Saints, currently tenth in the league, have had a lean run since Christmas, losing three Premier League games and then drawing 2-2 with Norwich in the FA Cup.
Conversely, Liverpool have lost just one of their past 23 games and sit second in the Premier League. They did, however, suffer the ignominy of a 0-0 draw to League Two club Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup.
There is greater confidence about Liverpool making it through to the final and they are $1.35 to progress with the Saints at $3.03.
Liverpool have netted just one point from their past two visits to St Mary’s, with the teams sharing a 0-0 draw in November. It’s also worth noting that Liverpool won 6-1 there in the League Cup last year.
Southampton’s recent form is a worry and you’d think that Liverpool would like to get a result in this leg which would make the second leg a lot more straight-forward.
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