Carabao Cup Semi-Finals First Leg Preview and Predictions

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We look at the first two legs of the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup, where Southampton host Newcastle, and Man United travel to play Nottingham Forest.

Take a look at my predictions for last week’s Premier League games here!

Southampton v Newcastle

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Southampton were unfortunate to have dropped all 3 points in their game against Aston Villa. The first half was one that will not live long in anyone’s memory, with Southampton managing a sole shot, before a drone flying over the stadium delayed the game for around 10 minutes.

Southampton took the lead when a Ward-Prowse effort deflected into the back of the net, only for VAR to rule it out for a foul in the buildup.

Villa then took the lead with 13 minutes to go, Ollie Watkins heading in a free kick from Douglas Luiz. Southampton would have hoped they could build on their brilliant win against Everton previously, but they remain joint bottom of the table for another week.

In the cup, however, Southampton are a different beast. Under Nathan Jones they have not lost a cup game yet, advancing in both the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup. Having home advantage first for Southampton will be a big boost, they can play their game and try to win by a few goals, albeit against a very solid defence, then sit back and soak up the pressure in the away game.

Newcastle recorded their 3rd 0-0 result in 4 games against Crystal Palace. They were by far the better team throughout the entire match, but, as they did against Fulham, they struggled to break down a defensively solid approach from their opponents.

Going forward, Newcastle are a great team to watch, but they are lacking a player who can take the ball past 2 or 3 defenders to make things happen. When Saint-Maximin is fully fit he may be the player to fill this role, but it is something Newcastle should be looking at in the transfer window, as was evident against Palace, Fulham and Leeds.

At the back, Newcastle are unbelievably solid, and it is hard to predict when they will next concede a goal. They have not conceded in their last 6 games, since a 4-1 win against Southampton. Defensively they are the best team in the league at the moment, and it is one of the reasons they are within a shout of a Champions League place.

Credit where credit is due, it is not just the Newcastle defenders who have been on fire this season!

The home advantage could be huge for Southampton here, but Newcastle very rarely concede, and whilst Southampton are proving to be a cup specialist at the moment, I think Newcastle will edge this one.

Prediction: Southampton 0 – 1 Newcastle

Nottingham Forest v Man United

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Forest, like Southampton, will feel slightly aggrieved that they dropped points against Bournemouth. Forest thought they had taken the lead through Yates’ first Premier League goal, only for it to be disallowed by VAR.

Bournemouth then took the lead through Anthony, their first goal since mid-November, setting Forest back. Forest did not hit back until the dying few minutes of the game, with former Bournemouth man Sam Surridge getting the equaliser, and earning Forest a point.

Forest are in form at the moment, they are quickly picking up points and are pulling away from the bottom 3. Their last loss was against the team they face in this fixture, where they travelled to Man United and lost 3-0.

This really is a free swing for Forest, they are up against a big side, who are probably favourites to win the trophy, however, they have home advantage. If they catch United on one of their off days, they have a chance of getting a result here and taking a lead to Old Trafford, but it will be difficult for them.

Man United will be mentally and physically drained after their 3-2 loss against Arsenal. To lose a game as big as that one, in the 90th minute, will knock some of the player’s confidence, especially when they played so well in stages.

One player’s confidence that will not be knocked by the result is Marcus Rashford. He is having the season of his career at the moment, and his time at United has been completely revived by ten Haag. He looks like a completely different player, full of confidence and he looks like a difficult player to deal with.

United will be favourites to win this competition, closely followed by Newcastle, but their two recent results suggests that they come into this game out of form slightly. A loss against Arsenal and a draw at home against Crystal Palace, these results will give Forest the hope and belief that they can cause an upset here.

I believe that United will still be the favourites to win here and advance to the final. I think they will bounce back from that defeat against Arsenal. Despite Forest being in form, I think this will be a step too far for them. Forest will make things difficult for United, but I expect them to return to Old Trafford with a comfortable lead for the second leg.

Prediction: Forest 0 – 2 Man United

Second Leg Fixtures

The second-leg fixtures will be played after the forthcoming FA Cup games. Prior to any potential fixture changes, Newcastle host Southampton on the 31st of January at 8 pm, whereas Man United play Nottingham Forest on the 1st of February, also at 8 pm.

The Final

The final will be played on the 26th of February, with the fixture being played at the home of English football, Wembley.

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