Unbeaten at home this season and carrying a 1-0 aggregate advantage into this semi-final second leg, Newcastle fans may feel their side have one foot in the league cup final already. Hopes of brushing Southampton aside will also be heightened by the fact the Toon have won in the last three consecutive meetings against the Saints and are in fact unbeaten in their last 5 H2H’s (4W1D).
Eddie Howe’s team have also had the luxury of a full week’s preparations for this semi-final while the visitors had to work hard to see off Blackpool in the FA Cup fourth round at the weekend, albeit with a much changed starting XI.
In truth, the domestic cup competitions have come as a welcome distraction for Southampton who currently sit bottom in the Premier League having lost 4 of their last 5 EPL matches. Third-place Newcastle sit a mammoth 24 points clear of Tuesday night’s opponents, who had finished just 9 points behind Newcastle last season, a sharp reminder of the changes in trajectory both clubs have undergone in such a short period of time.
As if Newcastle United’s long-suffering supporters needed any more encouragement before this mid-week encounter, it should be noted that only two sides in League Cup history have overturned a first-leg home deficit to qualify for the final, with Arsenal the last to do it way back in 1986/87.
All of the stats seem to be pointing towards an enjoyable night at St James’ Park for the Geordie faithful as Southampton have failed to keep a clean sheet across the last 18 H2Hs held there.
Southampton will have to score at least twice to win the tie without the drama of extra-time or penalties and such a challenge will be all the more difficult given England goalkeeper Nick Pope is on an incredible run of 10 consecutive clean sheets for Newcastle.
Such a mean defensive record has meant that, even though Newcastle haven’t exactly been firing on all cylinders in front of goal in recent months, they’ve still be picking up very positive results. The Toon have scored just 2 goals in their past 3 matches, and with a first League Cup final appearance since 1976 on the line for Newcastle, this could be a cagey affair as Southampton look to cling onto this tie for as long as they can. Newcastle to repeat the 1-0 scoreline of the first leg is 4/1.
Bar One Racing is offering DOUBLE THE ODDS on first goalscorer bets for this game, but with England striker Callum Wilson on a fruitless run of 9 consecutive matches without a goal, punters’ eyes may be drawn elsewhere.
Alexander Isak looks a promising signing by Eddie Howe, with the Swedish striker scoring 3 goals in 5 Premier League apperances so far, but Howe has suggested it may be another super-sub role for the striker as he continues to build his fitness back up after injury. Isak provided the assist for Joelinton’s first-leg winner.
Miguel Almirón is another man whose goals have dried up, with the Paraguayan without a goal in seven. Given he’s scored in 2 of the last 3 meetings between the sides, a bet on Bruno Guimarães may be the value @ 9/1 to score first.
- VERDICT: Newcastle (2/5)
- SCORE PREDICTION: 1-0 (4/1)
- FGS TIP: Bruno Guimarães (9/1)