St James’ Park forms the backdrop for the return leg of an evenly-contested Carabao Cup semi-final tie between Newcastle United and Southampton on Tuesday night.
Eddie Howe’s side picked up a vital 1-0 first-leg lead through Joelinton and were lucky to get away with a narrow win as VAR disallowed Adam Armstrong’s 75th-minute equaliser.
Despite putting one foot in what would be their first appearance in the Carabao Cup showpiece since 1976, the Magpies cannot take anything for granted after a close encounter at St Mary’s Stadium.
Being knocked out of the FA Cup in the third round has perhaps benefitted Newcastle’s bid to lift their first major piece of silverware since 1969.
However, Southampton’s disastrous Premier League campaign puts emphasis on their quest to win the Carabao Cup for the first time as it could be the only way to salvage some pride.
Nathan Jones’ side will be out to defy history at St James’ Park and become only the third club to overturn a first-leg home deficit in the competition’s semi-finals.
Unlike Newcastle, the Saints have made it through to the fourth round of the FA Cup courtesy of a 2-1 home victory over second-tier Blackpool, handing their hopes of pulling off a comeback here a morale boost.
Although they’re still boasting realistic chances of securing a top-four finish in the Premier League for the first time since 2002/03, Newcastle are not relevant in the title race, so going the distance in the Carabao Cup remains a priority at this point.
The Magpies have seemingly had Southampton’s number lately, racking up seven triumphs across their last nine games against the Saints in all competitions (D1, L1), including two this season.
Howe’s effort to guide his side into the final will likely rest on Newcastle’s water-tight backline that has kept a clean sheet in each of their last home outings across all competitions.
After losing three consecutive competitive away matches, Southampton have been victorious on their last two travels via an identical 2-1 scoreline, coming from behind to win on both occasions.
Unfortunately for the Saints, their recent fortunes at St James’ Park cannot inspire much confidence, considering they’ve managed just one win on their last 18 visits to this venue (D4, L13).
If you’re a fan of omens, Southampton have not drawn any of their nine competitive fixtures under Jones, registering four wins and five defeats, with seven of those games featuring a single-goal margin.
Newcastle United vs Southampton Potential Line-ups
Newcastle United (4-3-3): Nick Pope; Kieran Trippier, Fabian Schar, Sven Botman, Dan Burn; Joe Willock, Sean Longstaff, Bruno Guimaraes; Miguel Almiron, Callum Wilson, Joelinton.
Southampton (4-2-3-1): Gavin Bazunu; Kyle Walker-Peters, Lyanco, Duje Caleta-Car, Mohammed Salisu; Carlos Alcaraz, Ibrahima Diallo; Samuel Edozie, James Ward-Prowse, Mislav Orsic; Sekou Mara.
Newcastle will be without long-term absentees Emil Krafth, Jonjo Shelvey and Matt Targett.
As for Southampton, Valentino Livramento is still on the sidelines with a knee injury, while Moussa Djenepo faces a race against time to make the cut.
Newcastle United vs Southampton Prediction
Yet to lose a match at home this season (W9, D5), Newcastle should have a clear advantage in this contest and we back them to defend their first-leg lead in what will likely be a low-scoring affair.
Newcastle United 1-0 Southampton
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