On Sunday afternoon at Wembley Stadium, Manchester United and Newcastle United square off for the first piece of domestic silverware to snap their respective trophy droughts.
Erik ten Hag still has a long and arduous route ahead of him to return Man United to their previous glory, but beating Barcelona and winning a trophy within a few days would be a significant step in the right direction for the much-admired Dutchman.
The Red Devils have managed to dodge the top English clubs to advance to Wembley while still conducting themselves professionally. They have defeated Aston Villa, Burnley, Charlton Athletic, and Nottingham Forest to make it to their first domestic cup final since the 2017–18 FA Cup.
A quadruple offering of trophies remains a distinct possibility for Man United, who advanced to the last 16 of the Europa League on Thursday night with a 2-1 win over Barcelona. Antony and Fred completed the comeback from Robert Lewandowski’s penalty kick to give the Red Devils a 4-3 aggregate win.
Man United have scored at least two goals in their EFL Cup games thus far and have kept clean sheets in each of their last four.
Man United heads to Wembley with a nine-game unbeaten streak in all competitions, and they have scored at least twice in their previous ten games. They also aim for success in the FA Cup and threaten to surprise Arsenal and Manchester City in the Premier League.
Man United Form (All Competitions): D W D W W
Manchester United are the only English club left in four competitions ?
✅ Premier League
✅ Carabao Cup
✅ FA Cup
✅ Europa League
What an impact Erik ten Hag is having ? pic.twitter.com/Tyiz5YRapl
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) February 24, 2023
Newcastle’s market activity has undoubtedly contributed to its meteoric rise from the depths. Still, Howe’s admirable work has been noticed. Newcastle has gone about their transfer business with due diligence since their lucrative takeover to comply with Financial Fair Play regulations.
Newcastle has won a trip to Wembley for the first time in 24 years after defeating Tranmere Rovers, Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Leicester City, and Southampton. The Magpies aim to win the EFL Cup for the first time in their history.
The 10-man Magpies nevertheless threatened to expose Liverpool’s defensive frailties and then some, despite Howe’s squad going through an unfavourable stretch of Premier League form, failing to win each of their last four games and the second top-flight loss against Liverpool.
Since winning the FA Cup in 1955, the Magpies have gone on an eight-game losing skid at Wembley.
Newcastle United Form (All Competition): W W D D L
Marcus Rashford’s social media post on Friday morning after leaving the match against Barcelona with a limp raised concerns about a potential injury. Still, he will make every effort to prepare for the championship game.
Christian Eriksen and Donny van de Beek will surely miss the championship game for the Red Devils, and Anthony Martial’s recovery from a hip injury is also doubtful.
Nonetheless, Antony and Harry Maguire overcame their injuries to play on Thursday, with the former making a significant contribution off the bench.
In the meantime, it’s unsurprising that the Newcastle goalkeeper situation has dominated team talk leading up to the EFL Cup final.
Nick Pope is on suspension after receiving a red card against Liverpool. His backup, ex-Manchester United loanee Martin Dubravka, is also cup-tied, along with Anthony Gordon.
As a result, Loris Karius, who has yet to play for an English team since that night in Kyiv for the 2018 Champions League final, needs to step up.
On a more positive note, Bruno Guimaraes may rejoin an injured midfield after serving his domestic suspension.
Emil Krafth, an ACL casualty, will be the only Magpies player who is set to miss this game due to injury. Still, Howe is optimistic that Joelinton and Joe Willock may overcome their thigh issues in time to play.
RED CARD FOR NICK POPE!
He will miss the Carabao Cup Final ? pic.twitter.com/Aqw6UeE1fC
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) February 18, 2023
Manchester United’s possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Martinez, Shaw; Casemiro, Fred; Antony, Fernandes, Sancho; Rashford
Newcastle United’s possible starting lineup:
Karius; Trippier, Schar, Botman, Burn; Longstaff, Guimaraes, Joelinton; Almiron, Wilson, Saint-Maximin
Time, Date & Venue
Date: Sunday, February 26
Time: 04:30 pm, GMT
Venue: Wembley Stadium, London
The significance of Guimaraes’s return to Newcastle’s base of the midfield cannot be emphasised. Newcastle is different from the defensive power that they were only a few weeks ago. Man United won’t need a second invitation to test the gloves of the out-of-practice Karius.