Newcastle United are 90 minutes from a Wembley Final in The League Cup, a competition The Magpies have never won, if they can finish the job started in last Tuesday's Semi-Final First Leg against Southampton whom they beat 1-0 thanks to Joelinton's second-half strike at St. Mary's Stadium:
It could and should have been a bigger lead for Newcastle after the first leg with Joelinton having what looked like a perfectly good goal ruled out after he was adjudged to have handled the ball but replays were inconclusive and VAR Andre Marriner should really have overturned what could have been a live action oversight by ref Stuart Atwell:
The big Brazilian missed a sitter as well before he scored but it took the double substitute intervention of Alex Isak and Allan Saint-Maximin to put The Magpies on top in the tie with Newcastle's record signing Sweden international waltzing past his marker on the wing before driving into the box & giving Joelinton a tap in to break the deadlock:
There was time for late drama as well as Saint-Maximin danced a merry jig through the Saints defence and was brought down by Duje Caleta-Car, whose second yellow card saw him sent off but the Southampton defender has already served his one-match suspension in Southampton's 2-1 win over Blackpool in The FA Cup yesterday so will be back in contention to play at St James' Park and potentially face Jacob Murphy, who sarcastically waved him off the pitch:
Newcastle have generally been experiencing somewhat of a goal drought by their own standards lately which the £40M signing of England U21 star forward Anthony Gordon from Everton has been made to address as The Magpies go in search of Champions League football this season although he is Cup-tied for The Carabao Cup:
Yet the stars of the previous round - especially Alexander Isak can address Newcastle's immediate concerns in front of goal as he has been doing since his return from injury with a goal against Fulham and assist at Southampton. Indeed, Isak's xG was the highest on the pitch in the Semi-Final First Leg culminating with his assist for the winning goal and he looks so lively he has to start:
Isak and Saint-Maximin on the pitch together is looking a potent combination off the bench and the Frenchman spoke after Tuesday's game that he and the Sweden international are pushing hard for a start:
Eddie Howe has demonstrated over the last 12 months since he took the Newcastle job that he is a manager who likes to keep a settled consistent line-up especially when his sides are doing well as they have been this season yet Callum Wilson has not looked his normal energetic self since returning from The World Cup and contracting a mystery illness so could benefit from a rest:
Wilson's favourite Premier League opponents West Ham come to St James' Park in The Premier League on Saturday night & a refreshed no. 9 would be the ideal man to keep Newcastle's Champions Leagues hopes alive:
Saints Cup Run Due To End
Southampton continued their rich vein of good Cup form with a 2-1 win over Blackpool in The FA Cup on Saturday with French left-back Romain Perraud scoring a goal either half - an excellent free-kick and a neat finish after a 1-2 in the second:
It is Cup form which is energising the club and its fans under new manager Nathan Jones yet it won't mask struggles in The Premier League in the South Coast club's battle to beat the drop and the Saints have big games against Brentford & Wolves next up.
Jones has vowed to remain positive and go toe-to-toe with The Magpies at St James' Park ahead of the Cup clash:
"We'll go there with the game-plan, we'll go there to try and be as positive as we can because we know we have to win the game.
"We can't go there and be cagey or anything and I think that could play into our hands as well because they're a good side, a fantastic side, but it's evenly poised"
The Southampton manager has come in for some criticism on social media from fans for suggesting that his side "technically" did manage to score past Newcastle but the goal of Geordie striker Adam Armstong was disallowed by VAR for handball:
Another clean sheet was Nick Pope's 16th of the season so far and means Newcastle league Europe's Top 5 Leagues for clean sheets and another one tomorrow night will see The Magpies progress to Wembley for a final for the first time since 1999:
Eddie Howe in his press conference on Monday morning confirmed long-serving midfielder JonJo Shelvey is talking to Nottingham Forest about a move and that The Magpies will attempt to replace him possibly with a player on loan:
Howe insisted he is taking nothing for granted after that slender 1-0 win in the First Leg - that may have been more with a better VAR decision - and has drilled that message into his players:
It'll be another famous night under the lights at St James' Park and one The Magpies will win comfortably adding attacking menace to their superb defensive displays.
Prediction - Newcastle 3 Southampton 0