Newcastle United will look to establish a healthy first-leg lead when they face Southampton in the EFL Cup semi-final at St. Mary’s on Tuesday.

Midweek brings leg one of the two-legged semi-final clash in the Carabao Cup as Southampton and Newcastle United will lock horns in what is expected to be an entertaining contest at St. Mary’s Stadium.

Having largely endured disappointment and broken promises under the controversial and disinterested ownership of Mike Ashley, Newcastle fans are enjoying a memorable season, with their team involved in the top-four race, while they also have a realistic opportunity of winning a silverware in the form of EFL Cup.

The Toon Army would love nothing more than a Wembley trip. And they are only two games away from their first cup final appearance since 1999 when they fell to a 0-2 defeat against Manchester United in the FA Cup final. Interestingly, Newcastle and Manchester United could meet again this season. But the Magpies will hope to return the favour this time around if that turns out to be the case.

While it is a good feeling to be close to something historic and momentous up north, things look pretty bleak down south. Southampton are languishing at the foot of the league table and have been for some time. After flirting with relegation multiple times in recent years, the outlook for this season is particularly gloomy.

This cup competition is the only bright spot in an otherwise dismal campaign for the Saints, who lost 1-0 at home to Aston Villa at the weekend. The inevitable drop to the Championship awaits unless they change course. Having endured a real “baptism of fire” following a rocky patch under new boss Nathan Jones, the Saints look to be getting to grips with new coaching methods and tactics and are showing signs of life.

Victories over Crystal Palace, Everton, and Manchester City in their last four games have showcased that. Even against Aston Villa, they were hard done by a VAR call and were comfortably the better team on the balance of play. Thus, they are currently riding on positive momentum and will be no pushovers.

Newcastle United smashed Southampton 4-1 at St. Mary’s in the Premier League back in November in what was a counter-attacking masterclass, and a slightly flattering score-line given it was a closely fought contest with chances at both ends. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the Carabao Cup encounter.

Team News & Tactics

Southampton

Alex McCarthy and Theo Walcott are still working their way back to regain full fitness after recovering from their respective injuries but remain doubts to feature here for Nathan Jones’s side. Meanwhile, Juan Larios (muscle), Armel-Bella Kotchap (knee), and Valentino Livramento (ACL) are also set to miss out on the chance to play in the first leg of the EFL Cup semifinal against Newcastle.

Jones has predominantly used a back-three formation in his previous job at Luton Town but has settled on a 4-2-3-1 formation at Southampton. He has tried to implement a non-possession-based, energetic, direct, and efficient brand of football since his arrival. The Southampton boss should trust the same back-four that took to the field against Aston Villa and has looked defensively solid of late, conceding just three goals in the same number of games.

Gavin Bazunu will feature in goal for the Saints. Mohammed Salisu will resume his defensive partnership with Duje Caleta-Car as they try to keep things solid on the defensive end of the pitch, flanked by reserved right-back Lyanco, and marauding Kyle Walker-Peters. The midfield double pivot of Romeo Lavia and Ibrahima Diallo will provide the requisite energy and tenacity in the engine room.

Wingers Samuel Edozie and Moussa Djenepo, meanwhile, could be integral in turning defence into attack with their ball-carrying and dribbling ability, with James Ward-Prowse looking to pull the strings behind the main striker, Sekou Mara, who scored a wonder-strike against Manchester City in the last round. Che Adams is the competition’s top scorer and will look to make an impact off the bench.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Bazunu; Lyanco, Caleta-Car, Salisu, Walker-Peters; Lavia, Diallo; Edozie, Ward-Prowse, Djenepo; Mara

Newcastle United

Unlike his counterpart in the Southampton dugout, Eddie Howe will have fewer injury problems, with Bruno Guimaraes returning from an ankle issue to start against Crystal Palace last time out. Long-term absentees Emil Krafth (knee), Matt Targett (heel), and Jonjo Shelvey (calf) are not expected to play any role.

One of the reasons Newcastle do not concede many goals is because of the way they set up in possession. Manager Eddie Howe usually lines up his side in a 4-3-3 system that allows Kieran Trippier to push forward down the right flank to engineer some clear-cut opportunities in the final third with his accurate passing and crossing, but left-back Dan Burn does not go forward as much.

Fabian Schar, Sven Botman, and Burn stay back to form a a back three. And with wide players Joelinton and Miguel Almiron good at tracking back and blocking spaces in behind, they have enough numbers and width to fend off counterattacks if they turnover the ball.

Moreover, boasting a towering and reflexive goalkeeper in Nick Pope, who made a world-class save from Jean Phillipe-Mateta’s snapshot against Palace last time out, as the last line of defence has contributed to the cause as well.

Guimaraes will anchor the midfield for Howe’s side, with Joelinton and Sean Longstaff providing legwork on either side of him as they try to establish their superiority over the opposition at the centre of the park. Alexander Isak and Allan Saint-Maximim came off the bench in Saturday’s game and could well start the match here, with Almiron completing the front three.

Callum Wilson has not scored since late October and has not been quite at his best since returning from the World Cup. For that reason, the Englishman could be utilised to make an impact as a substitute. Howe is also eager to bring in a player that can help bolster his frontline after the exit of Chris Wood to Nottingham Forest.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Pope; Trippier, Schar, Botman, Burn; Longstaff, Guimaraes, Joelinton; Almiron, Isak, Saint-Maximin

Key Stats

  • Newcastle United and Southampton have only played once in the League Cup, with the Saints winning 4-1 in a third-round meeting in 196869.
  • Southampton have won just one of their last 11 encounters with Newcastle United across all competitions (D3 L7), winning 2-0 at St. Mary’s in November 2020.
  • Newcastle United have only competed in one League Cup semi-final before, against Tottenham Hotspur in 1975/76, progressing after losing the first leg 1-0 and winning the second leg 3-1.
  • Southampton have won two of their three League Cup semi-finals, most recently against Liverpool in the 2016/17 season.
  • Che Adams has scored the most League Cup goals this season (four).
  • Newcastle have preserved a clean sheet in four of their previous five League Cup games, with Elliott Nevitt of Tranmere Rovers being the only player to find the back of the net against the Magpies this season.

Player to Watch

Kieran Trippier

Perhaps the most decisive transfer of the Saudi era so far is that of Kieran Trippier, who has as good as paid back his £12 million transfer fee and long justified the bold call to swap a European giant in Atletico Madrid for then-relegation candidates last January.

The England international was instantly installed as a leader among the squad and is having a phenomenal season. As with most notable full-backs in the modern era, Trippier is very attack-minded and often acts as Newcastle’s chief creator down the right flank, instigating various geometrical patterns swiftly alongside Miguel Almiron and Sean Longstaff.

Embed from Getty Images

In fact, this season, only Kevin De Bruyne has accumulated more expected assists (xA) in the Premier League than the Englishman, who ranks in the 99th percentile of full-backs for shot-creating actions and in the 92nd for progressive passing.

There are a few attack-minded full-backs who are susceptible at the back. But Trippier is not one of them because he is a major component of the Premier League’s top defence right now. The Toon have conceded just 11 goals in 2022/23, five fewer than league leaders Arsenal.

He was also Newcastle’s Player of the Match against Crystal Palace last time out, creating eight chances and having the most touches (101) and tackles (5) of any Newcastle player on the pitch. As the Magpies prepare to stroll their way into the second leg, he will attempt to deliver yet another full-back masterpiece here.

Prediction

Southampton 0-2 Newcastle United

Although they have lacked a bit of their creative verve and killer instincts lately, Newcastle United are still heavy favourites against Southampton. The Magpies’ season has been nothing short of sensational, and they will be confident about their chances of coming away with a solid cushion this midweek heading into the second leg exactly one week later.

They harbour top-four aspirations this term as well as lifting the ever-elusive silverware. And while Southampton have shown green shoots of recovery, they will find it hard to put a dent in the grand plans for Newcastle United.

The Magpies are likely to dictate the tempo of the game, and the Saints will be looking to contain and counter. But Newcastle United boast the best defence in the country and are likely to prevail against Southampton. Thus, The Hard Tackle predicts a solid 2-0 victory for Eddie Howe’s Geordie juggernaut.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

I agree to the Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Recommended

Welcome Back!

Login to your account below

Retrieve your password

Please enter your username or email address to reset your password.