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Newcastle vs. Manchester United - Preview, Lineups & Talking Points

Carabao Cup Final D-Day Monster Breakdown

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Newcastle United v Manchester United - Premier League - St. James’ Park Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images

Can you smell the fear coming from Manchester? Ugh.

You might don’t, but what you can definitely expect is some good old lovely “Geordie Shithousery.”

The Big Day has arrived and Trafalgar Square is packed full of lads donning Black & White stripes.

There is not much more I can add to the madness you can feel by checking the tweet above or the other thousand scenes that have been shared all over the internet. It’s just crazy, which is to say it’s just Geordie.

Manchester United’s coach Erik ten Hag, he The Good Boy, already warned the refs of the day about the potential tricks that Newcastle tends to pull off weekly.

“[NUFC] are a great team. Clear philosophy how they want to play the game. The keyword is intensity, they are doing really well,” said ten Hag in his pre-game press conference. “They are an annoying team to play against.”

Interesting comments, to say the least. Annoying in what way? Well, let ten Hag himself explain.

“[Newcastle] try to annoy you, so we have to make sure we play our game. For instance, if you see from the FA... the referees want to play effective time. Newcastle have the lowest in the league, and they are quite successful with it. It’s up to us that we get speed in the game, but we are then dependent on the refereeing as well.”

Fear leads to lies. Of course, saying NUFC have the lowest ball-in-play time in the Premier League this season sells, and puts pressure on the referees. Hearing those blatantly misleading statements... who would have told Man Utd is the supposed bigger team and favorite here, uh?

Good for us members of the Toon Army, Captain Kieran came to the rescue saying that he “loves it” when discussing the style of Newcastle. We feel you, Trippier, we dearly feel and love you too.

“Stefan Savic used to pull people’s hair, even in training. It was crazy but I love all that.” Oh, boy, are we in for a treat going down at Wembley this evening?

See, the thing is Newcastle have not won a trophy at all since 1969 (peep the games here) nor a domestic one since before the freaking man stopped on the Moon. The last little British Cup came home all the way back in 1955 (it’s been a while, yes, but we have footage confirming it happened).

Manchester United, on the other hand, have won a title as recently as in May 2017 when they lifted the UEFA Europa League. Yet they’re trying to build a stupid narrative and play the underdog role in a way that makes little to no sense.

To each his own.

These two fine organizations (until Qatar inevitably acquiresManchester United and breaks all sorts of multi-club-ownership rules) have already met this season in the Premier League, and although it happened last October it feels so long ago. Just for context, Cristiano Ronaldo was still a leech stuck in the Red Devil’s attack and starting games back then.

That matchup ended in a goalless draw at the cold Old Trafford ground. Coincidentally, Marcus Rashford came off the bench to replace Ronaldo. Quite apt, as that’ll probably be the case today—because Rashford is banged up and not going to start at Wembley, mind you, so he’ll have to play as a reserve.

Newcastle made five changes in that game, including an added-time replacement that saw Jamaal Lascelles enter the pitch in exchange for Fabian Schar. You gotta eat as many minutes as you can, don’t you?

Loris Karius was the GK2 sitting on the Magpies bench that Oct. 22 but today, Feb. 26, he will most probably be the man defending Newcastle’s goalposts from the Red Devils' fire.

Antony Martial, ruled out Sunday, will definitely not be the one scoring at the largest of venues and biggest of stages under the brightest of lights come kick-off time. No Christian Eriksen nor Donny van de Beek for Manchester, either, the former out until April and the latter for the remainder of the season. Cold world, after all.

Eddie Howe spoke to the media on Tuesday 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.

Probable Lineups predictions at the upcoming Starting XIs from the Magpies and the Red Devils are in, so let’s go through what could be coming from Newcastle’s Eddie Howe.

Lineup Notes

  • Not Available: Krafth (knee), Manquillo (knee)
  • Doubtful: Targett (foot), Willock (thigh)

Talking Points

  • The elephant in the room is quite big and obvious to spot. Loris Karius will be starting under the goalposts of Newcastle on Sunday. It’s the first competitive game the Germany U21-international will be playing since he last did in 2021, more than two years to this day. I don’t think it makes much sense to go all over this man’s track record, history, story, and whatnot because rivers full of ink have been showcased by all big media outlets out there for days on end following Nick Pope’s sent-off against Liverpool.
  • There is another, much more impactful thing going on here that a lot of people are forgetting about. Karius will start this game only as a consequence of Martin Dubravka being cup-tied after getting loaned out to Manchester United (of all teams...) earlier this season. That’s not particularly important, either, but the keyword to keep in mind—cup-tied—will have a much broader impact on Newcastle that should be much more known than it is for the casual fan: Anthony Gordon can’t play at Wembley after doing so with Everton until the Toffees were eliminated earlier. Now, that one hurts.
  • Not having Gordon available will make it kinda easier for Eddie Howe to pick his starting XI and his off-the-bench substitutions depending on how the game develops, of course, but that’s not really bueno. Joe Willock should be on the gameday squad but he’s coming off an injury so he might start on the bench. Bruno is back after going through a three-match ban, so we can only hope his fitness is cool after spending nearly a month without competitive action.
  • All of the above means that, if Willock is even 99% fit, Howe might choose Sean Longstaff, Bruno, and Joelinton in the Magpies’ midfield for the kick-off and go from there. That, of course, would mean Allan Saint-Maximin starts on the left wing, which...
  • If Willock is 100% (let me doubt it) he is going to start all day, every day. That means Howe will have two options for the left-wing position: Joelinton and ASM. Now, if I’m Howe and with Manchester United on a true tear of late, I’d pick Joelinton before I do ASM.
  • For one, picking Joelinton boosts the team cohesion moving up and down the field as he takes on more defensive duties even though that comes with the obvious lack of dribbing/speed/quick-attack that ASM provides. For two, ASM has been a little bit more willing to track back this season, perhaps fearing losing his place on the starting XI after Joelinton’s rebirth, let alone after the arrival of Anthony Gordon.
  • The good thing about having ASM on the bench to start the game is that Man Utd doesn’t really have the greatest wing-backs ever and by the time his moment arrives (let’s say, the 60th minute or so) he will be getting into the pitch to face a (slightly, at least) tired right-back that will have to deal with the most lively and talented, marvelous, agile winger in the Premier League when playing at the top of his levels and rested. I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to say Saint-Maximin could turn into the X-Factor of this game if he comes off the bench. I’d go with that plan all day, and not take an extra second to consider any other option on the left.
  • The other (big) question mark lies at the most advanced position. Is it going to be Callum Wilson, or is it going to be Alexander Isak? I have seen arguments in favor of both options, and honestly, I don’t think you can go wrong here. That said, I would start Wilson because he’s the most experienced of the two, the one who knows how to put it in—even though he’s going through a rough spell—and the oldest player so it would make the most sense to sub him off past the 70th minute of play in favor of a couple of (very) fresh and perhaps needed (obvious if the game goes to extra time) legs like those Isak can provide then. In my scenario, Isak and ASM would play the last 20+ minutes together and that might be overkill for a Man Utd defense running on fumes by then.
  • This is the Carabao Cup final. You have to plan for everything and believe it won’t be an easy task to win the match. It will take time to break the lock. Things will go down to the wire, if not longer than 90 minutes. You have to consider that and plan ahead of what’s coming. ASM and Isak can definitely start the game and put on magnificent performances from the get-go. Even then, the benefits of bringing them in late look bigger to me than having them on the starting XI. Just my two cents.
  • Also, just in case: I’m a blog boy and not a Premier League, League Cup finalist coach, even though Howe himself “never imagined coaching in a cup final.”
  • Howay, the freaking Lads!

CHN Predicted Lineup

GK Karius
DEF Trippier - Schar - Botman - Burn
MID Longstaff - Bruno - Willock
WNG Almiron - Joelinton
FWD Wilson

Newcastle XI

Manchester United XI

  • Date: Sunday, February 26th
  • Kick-off: 16:30 BST / 11:30 EST
  • Location: Wembley, London (England)
  • Broadcasts: DAZN (CAN) — ESPN + (USA) — SKY GO Extra, Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Football (UK)

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Howay the Lads!