Two pundits are in agreement over Newcastle United’s chances in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final with Manchester United.
The Magpies are now closing in on the big final, heading to Wembley on Sunday with the hope of ending their more than 60-year trophy drought. It has been a superb season for Eddie Howe and his men so far this season, and the are hoping to secure some silverware to really kickstart the new project at St James’ Park.
Though, Newcastle will come up against a Manchester United side who have been excellent so far this season, achieving a real turnaround under Erik ten Hag. In fact, they demonstrated their quality with a hugely impressive win as recently as Thursday night when they defeated La Liga leaders Barcelona in the Europa League.
Newcastle also have the added challenge of being without starting goalkeeper Nick Pope, who is suspended for this one. Pundit Paul Merson believes that could be one of the key components of the final, telling Sportskeeda: “If there was one player Eddie Howe couldn’t afford to miss in this final, it would be Nick Pope. He has won them so many points this season.
“I’d be shocked if Newcastle won this one without Pope in goal. He is that big for Newcastle United. Unfortunately, he is suspended and that’s going to cost Newcastle dearly. When they’re keeping clean sheets, Pope is making big saves. Off the top of my head, in the draw against Arsenal, he made a world-class save to deny Eddie Nketiah.”
Predicting the final, Merson added: “Manchester United are going to create chances and they are going to score goals. Put [Marcus] Rashford down for one goal already. He is playing so well that you’ll be shocked if he doesn’t score in this game. United are the team to beat in the final. Newcastle United are not a free-scoring side. They don’t blow teams away. If they don’t score two or three goals, they are not winning this one. I just don’t see them doing that against United on Sunday.
“For me, the Magpies are desperate to win a trophy more than getting into the top four and these players can attain legendary status if they win silverware. Unfortunately, it looks unlikely that will happen. I’m going 2-1 to Man United.”
Another pundit, albeit one with more of a Man Utd bias in Rio Ferdinand, has predicted a very similar result to Merson. “Weekend Carabao Cup final - we’re going to be in there!” Ferdinand said on his FIVE YouTube channel
“Pope’s out, Newcastle out of form, Man United are in form, we’re on the crest of a wave right now, but I’m not getting carried away. I’ll see you at Wembley.”