Marcus Rashford heads the betting for Man of the Match for the EFL Cup final as Manchester United and Newcastle bid for the first piece of silverware of the season.
The award has been dominated by Manchester City players in recent years, with Virgil van Dijk bucking the trend last season as Liverpool beat Chelsea on penalties after a 0-0 draw after extra time.
Surprisingly, nobody who’s found themselves on the scoresheet has won the award since Vincent Kompany in 2018, with Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez winning in following years, though less surprisingly it's usually given to a member of the winning team.
Latest EFL Cup final Man of the Match odds
We take a look at the frontrunners for Sunday’s showpiece.
No prizes for guessing the favourite. Rashford is in the form of his life, scoring in 14 of his last 17 games since returning from the World Cup. He’s ’s most important player right now, and should the Red Devils lift the trophy on Sunday, it’s hard to see Rashford not having a part to play in it.
So good has Rashford been the last couple of months, Bruno Fernandes has fallen ever so slightly down the Old Trafford pecking order.
The tireless playmaker hasn’t quite hogged the limelight as he did upon his arrival in Manchester, but has still provided 15 goals contributions this season, and looks good for double figures for goals and assists.
Doubts over the Frenchman’s fitness remain, but Martial could stand out at Wembley if he starts. While Wout Weghorst has contributed off the ball, his impact on the ball has been minimal and the towering Dutchman is yet to win many fans at Old Trafford.
There will be plenty of eyes on Martial should he return, and he could make United look a more fluid attacking force on Sunday.
Despite more injury woes this season, Callum Wilson has scored seven goals in 14 Premier League starts and, assuming he starts on Sunday, will likely be Newcastle’s primary goal threat, even with the return of Alexander Isak.
If it isn’t Wilson posing the goal threat at Wembley, it will presumably be Isak, who’s still being eased into the side after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Despite only playing 437 minutes this season, the Swede has managed three goals and is another one to watch on Sunday.
Another Newcastle player who’s endured too long on the physio table this season is Allan Saint-Maximin, and such was Newcastle’s form in his absence, he found it hard to regain his place in the team.
The Frenchman has impressed since returning to the starting XI due to injuries and suspensions and there’s no questioning his talents; a player as eye-catching as Saint-Maximin is always worth monitoring for Man of the Match.
The decision to publicly ostracise Jadon Sancho from the club was eyebrow-raising from Erik ten Hag, but it appears to be another inspired move.
He’s still being carefully managed by Ten Hag, but he changed the game off the bench against Leeds and again against Leicester. If he can make such an impact from the start, he’ll be a runner on Sunday.
It may be a surprise to see Loris Karius amongst the favourites for Man of the Match. The last game most of us saw him play was the Champions League final where he had the nightmare to end all nightmares, having his pocked picked by Karim Benzema and chucking one in from Gareth Bale.
But it all adds to the narrative, doesn’t it? Newcastle are down to their third choice goalkeeper, and what a Cinderella story it would be for the maligned keeper to become the hero – be it in 90 minutes or in a penalty shootout.
The Magpies will likely be under the pump for much of the game, and if they do manage a win, Karius will surely be a big reason why.
Similar to Anthony Martial, there’ll be plenty of eyes on Casemiro on Sunday. Manchester United have just about got through his suspension, but there’s been a very clear hole in their midfield.
Casemiro will plug that gap at Wembley, and if United look as good as they did before his suspension, it will be easy to assume the Brazilian is the reason why.
While there are valid questions of David de Gea’s competence in the modern game, he’s still capable of producing out-of-this-world saves.
Manchester United desperately need a goalkeeper who’s better in the air, not glued to his line and most importantly, can distribute the ball. But none of those attributes look anywhere near as impressive as the saves we still see him make.
Will we see one last big performance in a Manchester United shirt from the Spaniard?
The eye-watering fee paid for Joelinton – back before Newcastle were the big spenders they are – put the spotlight firmly on the Brazilian and his dismal goal return saw him denounced as a massive flop.
But since dropping deeper and being deployed as a midfielder, his performances have been revelationary at times, and it would be quite the story for the 26-year-old to be named Man of the Match in a cup final.
A run of six goals in six games saw Miguel Almiron named Premier League Fans’ Players of the Month for October, before he made it seven in seven.
However the goals have since dried up, scoring just two more, and he’ll need to recapture his autumn form to steal the headlines on Sunday.
Undoubtedly Newcastle’s most important player, and if you’re unsure on that, look at the Magpies’ record without him. Played six, won none, and his return is vital not just to Newcastle’s EFL Cup ambitions, but their top four ambitions too.
If Newcastle are to win the trophy, they won’t do it with Guimaraes having a quiet game.
He’s not won many plaudits since joining Manchester United on loan, but perhaps that just sets the stage for the Dutchman to have a big performance on Sunday?
His off-the-ball work has been useful since arriving at Old Trafford, but he’ll need to do something more on the ball if he’s to be named Man of the Match.