Paul Merson makes EFL Cup final prediction as Manchester United face Newcastle United at Wembley


Paul Merson has revealed his prediction for Sunday’s EFL Cup final (Pictures: Getty)

Paul Merson has revealed his prediction for Sunday’s EFL Cup final as Manchester United and Newcastle United prepare to meet at Wembley.

The first trophy of the 2022-23 season will be handed out this weekend as Man United face Newcastle in the EFL Cup final.

Manchester United come into the fixture in superb form, with Erik ten Hag’s side climbing to third in the Premier League – five points behind leaders Arsenal – and progressing in the Europa League at the expense of Barcelona.

Newcastle, meanwhile, have enjoyed a superb season to emerge as top-four contenders but are going through a slight wobble, failing to win any of their last four league games.

Eddie Howe’s side lost to Liverpool last time out in a game which also saw first-choice goalkeeper Nick Pope sent off and therefore suspended for the EFL Cup final.

Former Arsenal and England winger Merson says Pope’s absence is a huge blow for Newcastle and potentially the deciding factor in the EFL Cup final.

Revealing his prediction for Sportskeeda, Merson said: ‘If there was one player Eddie Howe couldn’t afford to miss in this final, it would be Nick Pope. He has won them so many points this season.

Erik ten Hag could lift his first trophy as Manchester United boss

Erik ten Hag could lift his first trophy as Manchester United boss (Picture: Getty)

‘I’d be shocked if Newcastle won this one without Pope in goal. He is that big for Newcastle United. Unfortunately, he is suspended and that’s going to cost Newcastle dearly.

‘When they’re keeping clean sheets, Pope is making big saves. Off the top of my head, in the draw against Arsenal, he made a world-class save to deny Eddie Nketiah.

‘Manchester United are going to create chances and they are going to score goals. Put Rashford down for one goal already. He is playing so well that you’ll be shocked if he doesn’t score in this game.

‘United are the team to beat in the final. Newcastle United are not a free-scoring side. They don’t blow teams away.

‘If they don’t score two or three goals, they are not winning this one. I just don’t see them doing that against United on Sunday.

‘For me, the Magpies are desperate to win a trophy more than getting into the top four and these players can attain legendary status if they win silverware.

‘Unfortunately, it looks unlikely that will happen. I’m going 2-1 to Man United.’

MORE : Man Utd face nervous wait over Marcus Rashford injury ahead of EFL Cup final

MORE : Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel criticises Erik ten Hag signing

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