EFL Cup Final Preview 2023: Has Newcastle’s date with destiny come at a bad time for Eddie Howe’s side?
While Newcastle might have made real history on January 31st as they booked their first Wembley ticket in 24 years, the Magpies will know that they face a major challenge in the capital.
Despite eventually edging past Southampton thanks to a 3-1 aggregate victory last month, Eddie Howe’s side have failed to find much momentum before their date with destiny.
Making the trip to Wembley on February 26th with this season’s EFL Cup up for grabs, Newcastle will meet a Manchester United squad who also looking to draw a line under their extended trophy drought.
While the Magpies might have gained a string of plaudits from across the Premier League this season, they open this year’s EFL Cup final priced at 6/4 to get their hands on what would be a famous trophy for their cabinet.
However, although Newcastle’s travelling support might produce a real carnival atmosphere at Wembley, Howe’s men do have the feel of a side seeking a 2023 boost.
Carabao Cup Final Odds 2023
- Man United to win in 90 minutes – 6/5 with bet365
- Draw in 90 minutes – 23/10 with Betfred
- Newcastle to win in 90 minutes – 5/2 with SBK
- Marcus Rashford to score first – 41/10 with SBK
- Bruno Fernandes to score anytime – 9/2 with William Hill
- Man United to win 2-1 – 8/1 with bet365
- Newcastle to win 1-0 – 10/1 with SBK
- 2-2 draw – 14/1 with Coral
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Newcastle’s Poor Post-World Cup Form
While Newcastle might have lost just a pair of their 23 Premier League appearances this season, it is fair to say that the Magpies have shown some mild cause for concern over the past few weeks.
Despite heading into the World Cup’s winter break enjoying an iconic purple patch, Howe’s men will make the trip to Wembley this weekend in the midst of a three-match winless run against top-flight opposition.
Likewise, mustering just a single victory from any of their previous seven consecutive Premier League contests, Newcastle have come somewhat crashing back down to earth.
Now slipping out of the top-four following Tottenham’s victory against West Ham last weekend, the EFL Cup finalists will face an uphill struggle in their bid to claim a famous Champions League spot come May.
Inching closer to March priced as high as 11/8 to snatch a top-four finish this season, this is the first time that Howe does have some mild questions to answer at St. James’ Park.
Although Howe does have the chance to write himself into Newcastle folklore this weekend, the 45-year-old faces a real individual test at Wembley.
Nick Pope will not play in the Carabao Cup Final
While Newcastle might be hugely excited to welcome back midfield talisman Bruno Guimaraes from a three-game suspension at Wembley, Howe’s side will be without another key first-team star.
With the Magpies conceding just 15 Premier League strikes this season – the best defensive tally in England’s top-flight – a huge part of their success has come thanks to a new-found resolve at the back.
However, although England international Nick Pope might have proven to be a key part of Newcastle’s Champions League charge since making the move to St. James’ Park last summer, the ex-Burnley keeper will be missing on February 26th.
Shown what could turn out to be a costly straight red card during Newcastle’s 2-0 loss against Liverpool last weekend, Howe now has a major headache on his hands over the coming days.
With deputy goalkeeper Martin Dubravka remarkably cup-tied from Sunday’s showdown after spending the first-half of the season on loan at Old Trafford, one-time Liverpool flop Loris Karius could be handed a stunning return to centre stage.
Do Newcastle have good enough strikers?
Although Howe might be scrambling to find a first-choice option who can start between the sticks at Wembley, fans around the north east should have some concerns over their side’s toothless struggles in the final third.
Along with drawing a blank as they slumped to that 2-0 loss at the hands of Liverpool last time out, Newcastle have now bagged more than a single strike in just one of their last seven appearances across all competitions.
Although Callum Wilson might have earned a spot in Gareth Southgate’s World Cup last winter after enjoying a free-scoring start to the 2022/23 campaign, the former Bournemouth ace has struggled to replicate a similar level.
With their attacking talisman now recording just a single strike since Newcastle’s 4-0 romp against Aston Villa on October 29th, Wilson also appears to be dealing with a fitness issue heading into Sunday’s EFL Cup final.
With it already confirmed that Pope will miss out in the capital, Howe will be desperate to have Wilson firing on all fronts.
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