This weekend is the Carabao Cup final. Manchester United face Newcastle United, in a match that is huge for both clubs. For the former, they haven’t won a trophy since Jose Mourinho was at the club, but that pales into insignificance when compared to Sunday’s opposition. The Geordies haven’t won a trophy since the 60s and their supporters will be desperate to see that wait come to an end. Wembley will have a great atmosphere this weekend, in one of the most anticipated Carabao Cup finals for a long time.
Erik Ten Hag has overseen an excellent run of form in recent months. They have emerged as outsiders to win the league title, while they remain in all three cup competitions. It would be a huge achievement to win a trophy at the first opportunity. He was a proven winner in the Netherlands with Ajax and he has more experience in this types of game than his opposite number. The match comes just days after Manchester United knocked Barcelona out of the Europa League. They will be full of confidence ahead of the weekend.
Newcastle United will be hoping that this becomes the norm for them, following their takeover. Eddie Howe has done an excellent job in a short period of time, as he has led the club to their first domestic cup final in this century. In the league, they have competed well. Only Liverpool have beaten them in the Premier League, although recent form is a concern. The form book goes out of the window in cup finals though and this squad of players has an opportunity to make history. A win would mean a lot more to them than Manchester United.
Since the World Cup break, Manchester United have only lost once across all competitions. They have played more matches than any other Premier League side during this time.
Newcastle United have never won this competition. Their last domestic trophy success came in 1955.
Although there are some rumours about his fitness, it seems very unlikely that the England international will miss out on the Carabao Cup final. The size of the game, coupled with an opportunity to win a domestic trophy means that he is likely to force his way into the starting eleven. Even if he is carrying a minor niggle, he is the talisman for Manchester United and he will be the player that worries Newcastle more than any other. Since the restart, there is a case to be made that he has been the best player in Europe. His consistency has been incredible and he carries a huge goal threat in every game. Since the break, he has contributed 16 goals and four assists across all competitions. It has been a remarkable run of form and it will be capped off nicely with a domestic cup win. If he performs as he has been, he could be the match winner.
There will be people that consider the Brazilian has one of the best players of the Premier League season. It is obvious that he has been the key player for Newcastle United over the last 12 months. That became more evident during the last few weeks during his absence. This was due to a red card received in the previous round. It was a blow for Newcastle to lose him for this period of Premier League matches, but Howe will be relieved that he is back available for the final. The team are a much better outfit with the Brazilian in midfield. There is nobody else in the squad capable of playing his role. Manchester United will have a Brazil pairing in midfield and Bruno Guimaraes will be keen to be the standout player in that area of the pitch. After his red card, he will have a point to prove and there will be no better way of making amends than helping his team end their barren run of silverware.
Anthony Martial has been ruled out of this weekend by his manager, while Rashford is a doubt. Christian Eriksen is a few months away from a return to action.
Nick Pope is suspended, while Martin Dubravka is cup-tied, ironically as he played for Manchester United in this competition. This means Loris Karius will make his Newcastle United debut. Joe Willock and Matt Targett should both be back involved in the matchday squad. Bruno Guimaraes is available after his suspension.
Manchester United at the form horse going into the cup final, but these matches aren’t decided by the form book. Newcastle United will be helped by the return of Bruno Guimaraes and their supporters will be hoping this is an occasion for redemption for their deputising goalkeeper. It feels like it could be the time for Newcastle to end their trophy draught. Manchester United have played twice since their opponents last stepped onto a pitch. Fatigue could be a factor.
Manchester United 1-2 Newcastle United