Wembley beckons for Manchester United and Newcastle United! This Sunday, the two Premier League powerhouses travel to the capital for the 2023 Carabao Cup final.
As far as their respective fans will be concerned, a place in a cup final is long overdue. Manchester United’s last trip to Wembley for a final was back in 2018 when they were beaten by Chelsea.
Thankfully, a victory against Southampton the year before in the league cup final means their memories aren’t as sour as Newcastle United’s.
For the Magpies, their last major final was back in 1999, against none other than their soon-to-be opponents.
What will have been a miserable day for the Toon Army turned out to be a monumental year for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. Days after besting Ruud Gullit’s men, Manchester United famously beat Bayern Munich in the Camp Nou to secure a legendary treble.
It’s Now That Counts
Despite these sides sharing a rich history, a lot has changed for both clubs since they last met in a final.
Post Alex Ferguson, Manchester United have not been the force they once were. After several managerial appointments, Erik ten Hag has United producing performances reminiscent of old.
It’s a new look Newcastle United, too. They’ve amassed an enormous amount of wealth and can attract a higher calibre of player, but that mustn’t undermine the managerial prowess of Eddie Howe. He is the man responsible for their resurgence.
Routes To The Final
Manchester United first had to beat Aston Villa at home to progress in the competition. Having been beaten by them in the league in the preceding fixture, revenge was evidently on the agenda.
A comfortable 4-2 win at home saw them continue their cup journey. Up next, another home fixture, and another straightforward win, Burnley were beaten 2-0.
It was a third consecutive home draw for United, this time against Charlton. They won 3-0 with man of the moment, Marcus Rashford, netting a late brace.
The first leg of the semi-final saw Manchester United brush aside Nottingham Forest 3-0 at the City Ground. Their place in the final was sealed in the second leg with a 2-0 win at Old Trafford.
The Magpies’ March To Wembley
It was a relatively smooth ride for Erik ten Hag’s men, but who was Eddie Howe tasked with? It took winning a penalty shootout at home against Crystal Palace to set up their next game with Bournemouth.
A home tie for Newcastle, but they couldn’t find the net themselves, an own goal was the difference. Similarly to Man United, Newcastle found themselves landing yet another fixture at home, this time against Leicester.
A typically rowdy St. James’ Park saw Newcastle breeze to a 2-0 win that included a rare, clinical finish from Dan Burn.
Their semi-final would see them go up against Southampton, a side oozing with confidence after knocking out Manchester City.
Though that momentum wasn’t enough to derail Newcastle’s dream of being at Wembley. A Joelinton goal secured 1-0 win at St. Mary’s, and a 2-1 win at home confirmed their final spot.
Christian Eriksen has become integral this season, sadly he picked up a knock against Reading meaning he’s unavailable.
It took a transfer deadline scramble, but Erik ten Hag was able to recruit Marcel Sabitzer on loan as a replacement. The Austrian has been thrust into the deep end and so far has responded well to a new league.
There could be an argument that he too shouldn’t be available for selection, though. Many spectators believe he was very lucky not to receive a red card against Leicester in the league.
Brazilian Ballers Are Back
Fans of Manchester United had their head in their hands when Casemiro picked up the card that resulted in a three-match ban. Luckily for them, the game in which he can return to domestic football is this Sunday’s final. A huge boost for Erik ten Hag.
Almost mirroring this situation, fan favourite and the heart of Newcastle’s midfield, Bruno Guimarães also picked up a ban after a red card. Similarly to his compatriot, Casemiro, he too can make his return at Wembley.
It’s a sticky situation between the sticks. In the league against Liverpool, Nick Pope picked up a red card after he came charging out of his goal and handled the ball well outside of his area.
He was replaced by Martin Dúbravka, but this won’t be the man in goal on Sunday, either. A very short-term loan to Manchester United renders the second-choice keeper ineligible.
Who’s going to be Newcastle’s keeper on Sunday? It’s looking increasingly likely as though it’ll be Loris Karius. The German’s last match for an English side was his infamous display for Liverpool in the Champions League final against Real Madrid.
Could those two high-profile errors still linger in the back of Karius’ mind? We think Newcastle’s goalkeeper dilemma gives Manchester United a big advantage, and with the form Marcus Rashford is in, he’s likely to be on the score sheet.
We’ve no doubt that this is going to be a tight affair, but we think Erik ten Hag’s side have just enough to edge out Newcastle United. We think this’ll finish to 2-1 to MUFC.
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JD Football | November 21, 2023