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Carling Cup showdown

Carling Cup final
Venue: Wembley Date: Sunday, 1 March Kick-off: 1500 GMT
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live; text commentary on BBC Sport website and live on Sky Sports, full commentary on BBC London 94.9, BBC London DAB and BBC London online.

Harry Redknapp and Sir Alex Ferguson
Redknapp and Ferguson will pit their wits against each other on Sunday

Red-hot favourites Manchester United face holders Tottenham in what promises to be an intriguing Carling Cup final on Sunday.

BBC Sport tracked down two former players of the clubs, Gary Pallister and Gary Mabbutt, to ask them their thoughts on the big Wembley clash.

Gary Pallister
Gary Pallister
League Cup winner with Man Utd (1992)

You can't look beyond United - they're the team of the moment.

Let's look at the defence. These boys are in prime form and they've had an unbelievable record in the last few months.


In players like Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans you have three outstanding centre-halves. Of course, they also have a world-class keeper in Edwin van der Sar. That combination has helped United become a very difficult team to score against this season.

Wins: Two (1992, 2006)
Runners-up: Four (1983, 1991, 1994, 2003)
Perhaps they've been a little wasteful in attack - nevertheless it seems that one goal has been enough to win games. This squad has grown in stature and experience over the season.

It'll be interesting to see how my old manager Sir Alex Ferguson goes about picking the team to play Spurs.

I think he mentioned that young midfielder Darron Gibson will start having impressed in the other Carling Cup games and I also reckon striker Danny Welbeck will also make the starting XI.

But make no mistake Sir Alex will want to win the trophy so there will be experience on the pitch and more big hitters on the bench.

Sir Alex is talking down the quadruple but he also talked down the treble, and remember what happened.

United have the bigger squad and the quality throughout is the best there has ever been at Old Trafford, in my time.

Holders Spurs have got worries elsewhere - they're still in a precarious position in the league. Survival is the be all and end all for them so if they had the choice of winning on Sunday or staying in the Premier League, I know which one their fans would choose.

Gary Mabbutt
Gary Mabbutt
Former Tottenham captain

Spurs boss Harry Redknapp has a tough task ahead of him.

He has got a limited squad he can pick from because a few of the big names are cup-tied - Robbie Keane, Wilson Palacios, Pascal Chimbonda and Carlo Cudicini, while forward Fraizer Campbell cannot play because he's on loan from United.

Wins: Four (1971, 1973, 1999, 2008)
Runners-up: Two (1982, 2002)
Up front that just leaves Darren Bent and Roman Pavlyuchenko to try to break down that stubborn defence. It could be that Harry chooses to play 4-5-1 to start with and leave Bent on the bench with Pavlyuchenko as the main target man.

Some people have suggested that Harry and the players will not be treating the final as seriously as games in the league.

Well, it's true that when he came to White Hart Lane in October his remit was to help Spurs avoid relegation. But since arriving he has also guided the side to Wembley again, so he is obviously has a lot of respect for the competition.

Regarding the players, there is not one of them who will want to be rested for this game even though the squad have had an unbelievably busy week, with this being their third game in seven days. I've never heard a player stating that they want to be rested for any game.

I've heard that the demand for tickets from Spurs fans is reaching extraordinary levels and I'm not the least bit surprised. I think a few are recalling what the atmosphere was like inside Wembley last year. If supporters could win games then we would have beaten Chelsea 5-0 that day.

United will be outstanding favourites - they've got a great squad and have had an superb season so far.

But in 2008 we were the underdogs and look what happened then. We can do it again.

Gary Pallister and Gary Mabbutt were talking to BBC Sport's Saj Chowdhury

see also
Man Utd v Tottenham
27 Feb 09 |  League Cup
Ryan mighty hopes for 21st party
27 Feb 09 |  Man Utd
Man Utd 4-2 Derby (4-3 agg)
20 Jan 09 |  League Cup
Burnley 3-2 Tottenham (agg 4-6)
21 Jan 09 |  League Cup
League is top priority - Redknapp
22 Jan 09 |  League Cup

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