Had you planned for it, it would have never worked so smoothly.
Last January, I mean the January of the 2022 calendar year, Newcastle hosted Cambridge United at St James’ Park. It was a cold Saturday in Tyneside, Jan. 8th precisely.
This January, I mean the January of the 2023 calendar year, Newcastle visited Sheffield to play Wednesday at Hillsborough Stadium. It was a cold Saturday in Sheffield, Jan. 7th precisely.
That is, for those of you counting at home, 364 days between dates. A year, basically, to the day. The outcome, October's takeover already fully established and bearing fruits in Newcastle upon Tyne, was simply the same. A disgrace.
Two seasons with Eddie Howe in charge and no FA Cup trophy to claim is nothing to be ashamed of. At the end of the day, barring a triumph by Leicester City over Chelsea in the 2020-21 season, the winners of the last ten editions (including the ongoing one, let’s be honest for a minute) read like a murderer’s row of top-notch clubs: Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, and Liverpool with different success rates.
What is a shame, for Howe and Newcastle, is to fall in back-to-back 3rd Rounds of the FA Cup against not only a lesser opponent but also a lower-league, third-tier rival in Cambridge United (0-1, 2022) and Sheffield Wednesday (1-2, 2023).
Joe Ironside bagged the lone goal in last year’s clash between the League One and Premier League clubs. Josh Windass (twice) was the man tasked with finishing Newcastle’s run this time.
Different name, same outcome. An early exit and no cup trophy in sight. Or is it?
Newcastle still have a very nice chance at lifting a cup this season. It might (will) not be the Premier League, but the Carabao Cup is still in play with quarter-final games kicking off today. On the schedule: Magpies vs. Foxes with the former returning home to the comfortable confines of SJP after having mauled Leicester on the road just a bunch of days ago, beating them 3-0 on the spot.
Outside of Charlton, there are only Premier League-level teams taking part in the Carabao Cup quarter-final matchups. If all goes according to plan and judging by the EPL standings, the four times advancing to the semi-finals will be both Manchester clubs, Nott Forest, and Newcastle. You tell me there is not, again, a large chance the Magpies can sneak into the final with the semis played on a two-legged format. Yes, even if they draw any of United/City, that is, let alone facing one of Nott Forest or their rivals Wolverhampton.
All of that said, though, Leicester comes home on this very day having lost by three goals a handful of days ago. They will be looking for revenge and also trying to salvage a lost season in which they sit just 13th in the Premier League table and a mere two points above the relegation places.
As it’s been the case with NUFC for the last 12 months and change, it feels like we are spending more time dreaming about what is to come than what is actually happening in Tyneside.
Howe would say it himself as Diego Simeone’s true disciple: one game at a time. And no changes in bulk, please, and thank you.
Eddie Howe spoke to the media on Monday providing some fresh takes on Newcastle’s state of affairs just hours before today’s game.
You can read everything Howe had to say here, as part of our pre-match coverage.
FotMob.com predictions at the upcoming Starting XIs from the Magpies and the Foxes are in, so let’s go through what could be coming from Newcastle’s Eddie Howe.
- Not Available: Shelvey (calf), Krafth (knee), Dummett (calf), Targett (foot)
- Doubtful: Saint-Maximin (illness)
- We can all agree about this game’s main narrative. It’s not about Magpies vs. Foxes. It’s more about just Newcastle’s starters vs. Newcastle’s reserves.
- If you watched the matchup against Sheffield Wednesday then you know what we’re talking about very well. Eddie Howe decided to rotate his team (reasonably) against a third-division team expecting his opponent to put on a fight but not pull off a miraculous upset. It didn’t quite work out that way for smarty Howe.
- One thing is to make some changes. Another entirely different proposition is to flip eight starters for eight subpar reserves such as those sitting on Newcastle’s bench weekly. Last Saturday, Howe decided to leave Schar and Pope home entirely while starting Matt Ritchie, Jacob Murphy, Elliot Anderson, Javier Manquillo, Jamaal Lascelles, Jamal Lewis, and returning Martin Dubravka. Alexander Isak also started having not done so in the Premier League game against Arsenal, but that’s the only understandable (and positive) change.
- None of Lewis, Manquillo, Ritchie, Lascelles, Anderson, Isak, and Dubby have reached 400 minutes this season, and that’s counting last weekend’s tally. Murphy was the only player with 600+ minutes among those rotating into the starting XI. Just saying.
- Expect no bullshit on Tuesday against Leicester, though. For one, all oft-used starters are rested, and then some. For two, Howe (must have) learned the lesson the hard way, getting eliminated from the FA Cup by a lower-league team for the second season in a row and virtually in an exact one-year span: it happened first on Jan. 8, 2022, and such a disgrace took place again on Jan. 7, 2023. Quite the trend.
- Howe already confirmed the returns of Nick Pope to the goal and Fabian Schar to the defensive line yesterday. Joelinton didn’t rest but will be there again. Bruno and Miguel Almirón made off-the-bench cameos but you can pencil them in the starting sheet. The same goes for Kieran Trippier and Joe Willock.
- A one-legged Callum Wilson or an injured Alexander Isak is better than Chris Wood at this point. Even with a depleted-of-talent bench, the board would do good by selling Wood at the first call from anyone, anywhere in this round thing we call World. Can’t waste any clear-cut chances but Wood is not the man for that.
- Allan Saint-Maximin was about to start on Saturday but an illness left him entirely out of that matchup. Might be the only change from the XI facing Leicester in the EPL last December if Howe decides to rest Joelinton after using him last weekend.
CHN Predicted Lineup
DEF Trippier - Schar - Botman - Burn
MID Longstaff - Bruno - Willock
WNG Almirón - Saint-Maximin
- Date: Tuesday, January 10th
- Kick-off: 20:00 BST / 15:00 EST / 13:00 PST
- Location: St James’ Park, Newcastle (England)
- Broadcasts: Sportsnet World Now, Sportsnet World, Sportsnet Now, Sportsnet Now Plus (CAN) — ESPN+ (USA) — BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, Sky Sports Football, Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Ultra HD, SKY GO Extra (UK)
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Howay the Lads!