Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Man U, Saints hunt League Cup on Sunday

Published:Friday | February 24, 2017 | 2:00 AM
Mourinho

LONDON, (AP):

The first trophy of the English season will be handed out Sunday at Wembley, a more familiar stadium for Manchester United than League Cup final opponents Southampton.

The last time Southampton visited seven years ago, they won the Football League Trophy as a third-tier side. Now firmly established in the Premier League, the south coast team is chasing its first major honour since beating United in the 1976 FA Cup final.

Jose Mourinho takes charge of United in a cup final for the first time, with one eye on the more important pursuit of England's four Champions League places. United are sixth in the Premier League and Liverpool can pull further ahead Monday by beating defending champions Leicester, who are hovering above the relegation zone.

At the top, leaders Chelsea host Swansea and third-place Tottenham take on Stoke. Arsenal and Manchester City have the weekend off because they were to play Southampton and United, respectively.

 

Top four meeting

 

Meanwhile, in Spain, there's a top four meeting, and it seems the worst possible timing for Barcelona.

Atletico Madrid host the second-place Catalan club on Sunday in the midst of a four-match winning run at home. And Barcelona's confidence has been battered by a 4-0 humiliation at Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League and a difficult 2-1 win over relegation-threatened Leganes on the return to domestic duty.

But if Luis Enrique can turn it around, the coach could end the weekend on top with Real Madrid. The two-time defending champions are only one point behind leaders Real Madrid, who play on Sunday at Villarreal, where they have not won since 2014.

In Italy, this weekend could be decisive in determining the European ambitions of Atalanta and Inter Milan, who are currently level in Europa League spots.

Atalanta's youthful, mainly homegrown team has greater ambitions: Champions League qualification. Tomorrow, Atalanta take on Napoli, who are six points ahead in the third and final Champions League place.

Inter face a tough game on Sunday, hosting second-place Roma, who have an eight-point advantage over them in second place. Juventus are already seven points in front of Roma and play struggling Empoli tomorrow.

Points standing

 

Pts P W D L GF GA GD

1. Chelsea 60 25 19 3 3 52 18 34

2. City 52 25 16 4 5 51 29 22

3. Tottenham 50 25 14 8 3 46 18 28

4. Arsenal 50 25 15 5 5 54 28 26

5. Liverpool 49 25 14 7 4 54 30 24

6. Man United 48 25 13 9 3 38 21 17

7. Everton 41 25 11 8 6 40 27 13

8. West Brom 37 25 10 7 8 34 31 3

9. Stoke 32 25 8 8 9 30 36 -6

10. West Ham 32 25 9 5 11 34 43 -9

11. Southampton 30 25 8 6 11 28 31 -3

12. Burnley 30 25 9 3 13 27 36 -9

13. Watford 30 25 8 6 11 29 42 -13

14. Bournemouth 26 25 7 5 13 35 49 -14

15. Swansea 24 25 7 3 15 31 54 -23

16. Middlesbrough 22 25 4 10 11 19 27 -8

17. Leicester 21 25 5 6 14 24 43 -19

18. Hull 20 25 5 5 15 22 49 -27

19. Crystal Palace 19 25 5 4 16 32 46 -14

20. Sunderland 19 25 5 4 16 24 46 -22