Newcastle vs Southampton predictions: Magpies to reach final in style
Newcastle hold a slender 1-0 lead over Southampton heading into the second leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final tie at St James' Park on Tuesday night.
Joelinton's second-half strike during the first leg at St Mary's has put the Magpies in pole position to reach a first domestic cup final since 1999 and move a step closer to ending their 54-year wait to lift a major piece of silverware.
The advantage is certainly with Eddie Howe's Premier League high-flyers, but Southampton will be hoping to spring a surprise on Tyneside, as they also eye a trip to Wembley for this year's Carabao Cup final on February 26.
Newcastle will have to make do without a quartet of players for Tuesday's clash, although none of Jonjo Shelvey, Matt Targett, Emil Krafth or Martin Dubravka would have been expected to start had they been available.
Shelvey is unlikely to return from his calf injury until next month, while Targett is also a number of weeks away from making his comeback from a heel issue.
Krafth also faces an extended period on the sidelines with a knee injury and Dubravka is ineligible after featuring for Manchester United earlier in the competition.
Southampton also have fitness concerns, with winger Moussa Djenepo a major doubt due to the head injury he picked up during last week's first leg following a collision with Newcastle goalkeeper Nick Pope.
Armel Bella-Kotchap is also a major doubt due to an ongoing knee issue, while the game is likely to come too soon for goalkeeper Alex McCarthy, who is nursing a foot problem.
Longer term absentees Juan Larios (groin) and Tino Livramento (muscle) will also continue to miss out.
Newcastle have only lost two of 26 matches across all competitions this season and they remain unbeaten at St James' Park, with their last defeat on home soil coming against Liverpool at the end of April.
Howe's side have built much of their success on a strong defence, as they have let in the fewest goals in the Premier League to date this season (11), while goalkeeper Pope has not conceded in any of his last 10 appearances and has kept 16 clean-sheets in 24 games to date this term.
The Magpies also have an impressive recent record against Southampton, as they are unbeaten in the last five meetings between the two sides, winning both games this season, following up a 4-1 league success in November with last week's first-leg victory.
Southampton sit bottom of the Premier League, but four of their five victories under manager Nathan Jones have come in cup competitions, including their 2-0 success over Manchester City in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup.
The Saints also bounced back from last week's first-leg defeat to Newcastle by edging past Championship outfit Blackpool in the fourth round of the FA Cup at the weekend, a result that will give them renewed belief as they chase a first win at St James' since January 2015.
After claiming a first-leg advantage on the south coast last week, Newcastle will expect to complete the job in style on Tuesday, as they seek an eighth home win from their last 10 matches on Tyneside across all competitions.
With a raucous home crowd cheering them on, Howe's men should be able to claim victory, so long as they cope with the pressure and expectation that comes with trying to reach the final of a major cup competition for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century.
Newcastle know they will be in the Carabao Cup final so long as they keep a clean-sheet and, given their defensive record, it would be a surprise to see Pope's goal breached.
Southampton have only scored eight goals in 10 Premier League away matches this term and they rarely looked like scoring during the first leg.