Sunday Night Takeaway: Where would Man United be without Zlatan?

Plus Gabbiadini continues to hit the ground running and Stoke's struggles against Spurs go on

BY Raf Diallo 18:54 Sunday 26 February 2017, 18:54 26 Feb 2017

Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates with the EFL Cup Trophy. Picture by John Walton EMPICS Sport

For clubs like Southampton, the opportunity to win trophies don't come along often, even in their peak eras.

For Manchester United, this year's EFL Cup final win may not live long in the memory due to the club's illustrious history in other competitions.

But it was indicative of how crucial Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been in Jose Mourinho's first season in charge at Old Trafford.

At Wembley, the ex-Barcelona, Inter Milan and PSG striker scored twice and United would have lost the final if the Swede wasn't on the pitch.

His first half free kick gave them a platform before his late headed winner broke Southampton hearts.

After arriving on a free transfer from PSG, Ibrahimovic didn't need to repay his fee but he's done far more than that.

Such is his impact, the veteran has plundered 26 goals in all competitions from the Premier League and FA Cup to the EFL Cup and Europa League.

That is one third of United's total in those competitions and he's also supplied seven assists to boot.

While, he is unlikely to be extending his career long into Mourinho's United management career, at least he is making the transition process less painful than it could have been.

Gabbiadini impact

Manolo Gabbiadini found the door closing at former club Napoli despite a decent minutes per goal rate.

Whether it lasts or not, he has hit the ground running for Southampton with five goals in four appearances across the Premier League and EFL Cup.

Having only arrived in January, it would have been some impact had the Italian's two goals proved enough to earn Southampton's first trophy in 41 years.

But alas even his best efforts - he should have had a hat-trick but for a wrongly chalked off early goal at Wembley - couldn't bring a maiden EFL Cup trophy to Southampton.

The bad news from an Irish perspective of course when it comes to Gabbiadini is that Shane Long is merely being used as an impact sub The same was true of the EFL Cup final as he was granted 10 minutes of action.

Stoke struggle consistently against Tottenham

Tottenham vs Stoke now has a familiar outcome. Including Sunday's fixture at White Hart Lane, head to heads have finished 4-0 to Tottenham on the last three occasions.

With Harry Kane in typically fearsome form and Stoke extremely poor by manager Mark Hughes' admission, the Potters struggled badly and it wasn't reminiscent of the resilience so often displayed during the Tony Pulis era. 

Off The Ball

Newsletter

The very best bits of Off The Ball delivered every week