Carabao Cup final preview: Man United vs Newcastle United
It’s been 68 years since Newcastle United last won a domestic trophy; is this the weekend the Magpies finally land some silverware?
Not to spoil the party, but if recent results are anything to go by Eddie Howe and friends could find themselves waiting a little longer.
The Red Devils are going places under Erik
Form can be a fickle mistress, of course. But there’s no denying which of the two sides contesting the Carabao Cup final on Sunday are in better shape right now.
Man Utd fought back to beat Barcelona in the Europa League on Thursday night; that win is the latest in a nine-match unbeaten run in all comps.
But more than that, Erik ten Hag has transformed the Manchester side into a serious footballing team.
He’s faced the unpleasantness of the Ronaldo situation and handled it elegantly. And Ten Hag has also inspired Marcus Rashford to play his best ever football for the club. There’s little doubt that the Red Devils are going places under Erik.
Newcastle, too, are in a happier place than they’ve been in decades. But even leaving aside Nick Pope’s ill-timed madcap hijinks against Liverpool (if you missed it, the keeper was sent off for handling the ball outside the area in emphatic style), the Mags might be wobbling a little.
Newcastle have won just one of their last seven league games; they’ve only lost one too, and remain fifth in the Premier League table. Still, Howe’s side don’t quite have the momentum of their pre-World Cup excellence, when they produced seven wins in an eight-match run.
Under the circumstances, with Pope suspended it’s remarkable that Loris Karius is set to be the man between the sticks for Newcastle. He played for Liverpool in the Champions League final against Real Madrid back in 2018, making errors for two of the goals that led to a 3-1 defeat for the Merseyside team.
The Mags may well have a tough time at Wembley
Karius’ career hasn’t really recovered in the meantime; he hasn’t even played a game since his last appearance for Union Berlin back in February 2021.
Still, the prospect of the down-on-his-luck keeper getting a shot at redemption by helping Newcastle to land their first silverware in decades makes for quite the feelgood story. If he can pull it off.
Less dramatically, Man United are without a trophy in the last six years; Ten Hag will be hoping this will be the first of many on Sunday. Will the Dutchman and his improved side prevail?
If Newcastle have a potential weakness between the sticks, they’re also lagging behind when it comes to goals of late. Since the start of the year, in ten games in all competitions, the Mags have scored a total of nine goals.
In the same time period Man Utd have played 15 games, scoring 35 goals. It’s true that the two sides met in October at Old Trafford, with Newcastle holding their own in a goalless draw; but that result came in a spell when the Magpies were at their best. In the here and now, Newcastle have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last four league games.
Stats, form, and circumstance all suggest the Mags may well have a tough time of it at Wembley. The Man Utd victory is a 6/5 shot…
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