The last time stakes were so high you probably had not even been born yet. Well, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but you get what I’m trying to convey.
There was an FA Cup semi-final match played between Newcastle and Arsenal back in 2005. That would be it for the Magpies, following a change in the format of the competition in 1999 calling for one-leg clashes in the second-to-last round of the FA Cup.
There have been multiple quarter-final matchups in Newcastle’s recent history, both in the FA Cup and the League Cup, but semi-finals are a beast of an entirely different type that this organization has not met for decades on end.
Just a couple of years ago, NUFC already reached the third-to-last round in the Carabao Cup. One year before that one, they did so in the FA Cup. When Newcastle championed in the English second division back in the spring of 2017, they also reached the QF of the League Cup. No luck.
You have to go all the way back to 1976 to find a Football League Cup Final featuring Newcastle United in it. On the other side of the pitch on that day, Feb. 28, 1976, were the lads from Manchester—City, that was, believe it or not.
Far from the Guardiolas and the Hallands of our days, those years had Man City boasting two goalscorers going by the names of Peter Simon Barnes and Dennis Tueart. Don’t feel bad if this is the first time you hear about them. I get paid for writing about soccer and I hadn’t, either.
Newcastle’s finished that fateful day down 1-2 playing in front of 100,000 mad fans crammed into the relic-but-now-demolished Wembley Stadium. No luck.
Things are about to change. Or that should be the case on this very bright day, Jan. 1, 2023, more than 45 years to the day this happened for the last time in the history of Newcastle.
After beating Soton 1-0 on the road, the Magpies return to the comfortable and stiff pastures of St James’ Park tonight. Harrison Ashby will attend the game. So will Anthony Gordon. So will all of Newcastle, what the hell. Live on location or watching from home, from the pub, paying for the rights to witness history, or stealing their friends’ DAZN account just to peep at history. Can’t miss it.
Southampton is coming off a victory against Blackpool in the FA Cup. Yes, that little domestic competition that Newcastle were kicked off of by a bunch of minnows. Whatever. The Saints are also the Premier League bottom dwellers, so you gotta look at the bright side of things, don’t you?
You know what happened the last time Soton and Castle met. You might not know what happened before that clash, but we do. I’d be fine with either another 1-0 or 4-1. Up to you lads to pick one of those results and put on a replay tonight. I, personally, won’t be complaining too much.
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.
WhoScored.com predictions at the upcoming Starting XIs from the Magpies and the Saints are in, so let’s go through what could be coming from Newcastle’s Eddie Howe.
- Not Available: Krafth (knee), Targett (foot), Gordon (cup-tied), Ashby (unpacking his case)
- Doubtful: —
- No, no Anthony Gordon tonight. No Harrison Ashby, either. I mean, one is cup-tied and the other one barely sat foot on Tyneside yesterday. I wonder if they’ve already memorized the number of thee hotel rooms they’ll be living at for the next couple of weeks. Give them time, folks!
- Meanwhile, make sure you check our coverage of the signings of Anthony Gordon (happened Sunday) and Harrison Ashby (happened Tuesday). Also and most importantly, don’t miss out on our Q&A with the folks from Royal Blue Mersey, who answered every possible question you might have about Anthony Gordon, his signing, his talents, his personality, etc!
- Now, onto the football matters. Scott Wilson of The Northern Echo is reporting Callum Wilson will be leading the NUFC mob tonight once again. No Alexander Isak, then. I get it, but I don’t quite get it. I guess I can live with it because it’s been more than a week of rest for the Magpies since the last time we watched them. Wilson should have at least 70 minutes on his legs if not the full 90 and Isak has proved to be a murderous forward coming off the pine.
- It’s a bummer, but it’s what we have grown accustomed to expecting with Eddie Howe on the touchline and the team putting on impressive results all year long: an unchanged XI is coming. Find the info on the report linked in the bullet point above.
- I’m not ruling out watching one or both Gordon and Ashby next weekend, perhaps even starting. It’s going to be a short three-day resting period between today’s huge-stakes semi-finals game and the next EPL match, so it wouldn’t be crazy to see that happen. Also, it’ll be 16th-place West Ham on the other end, so it’s not that the opponent will make for the hardest fight. Too soon for those predictions, though.
- Jonjo Shelvey is off to Nottingham Forest, so that’s one fewer warm body in the middle of the park at least for tonight’s clash. We’ll see if we get any news/signings/loans throughout the day with the market closing tonight, but the gameday squad present at SJP tonight will be a bit thin in the middle.
- It was getting virtually impossible for Allan Saint-Maximin to find a way toward the starting XI before last weekend. Joelinton has played out of his mind on the left wing and the arrival of Gordon will make things even tougher for him. What will happen to Joelinton once Gordon is available, though? Will the Brazilian drop to a deep-MF role, free Bruno/Willock, and send Longstaff to the bench with Gordon getting the starting call at LW? Questions, questions...
- Miggy should be safe on the right flank. That said, I wouldn’t be mad at watching some changes of formation if this or that game allows for some tests. What about a 10-role for Miggy with ASM and Gordon on the wings and Isak as the lone striker? Let a man have wild dreams!
CHN Predicted Lineup
DEF Trippier - Schar - Botman - Burn
MID Longstaff - Bruno- Willock
WNG Almiron - Joelinton
- Date: Tuesday, January 31st
- Kick-off: 20:00 BST / 15:00 EST
- Location: St James’ Park, Newcastle (England)
- Broadcasts: DAZN (CAN) — ESPN+ (USA) — SKY GO Extra, Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Football, TalkSport Radio UK, BBC Radio 5 Live, Sky Ultra HD (UK)
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Howay the Lads!