Newcastle: One ‘weakness’ could be exploited in Carabao Cup final
Newcastle United right-back Kieran Trippier taking free-kicks on the left could be exploited by Manchester United on Sunday, according to Stan Collymore.
The Lowdown: Huge game for Newcastle
The Magpies take on Man United in the final of the Carabao Cup final this weekend, with Eddie Howe looking to secure the first piece of silverware under PIF ownership, but their preparation has been far from ideal.
Nick Pope was shown a red card in the 2-0 home defeat against Liverpool at the weekend and is duly suspended for Sunday, while Martin Dubravka is cup-tied, meaning that Loris Karius is in line to make his first appearance for the club in the Wembley showpiece.
The Latest: Collymore reacts
It is not just the absence of Pope (who has the most clean sheets of any top-flight ‘keeper this season) which will likely be felt by Newcastle, as Collymore has identified another frailty in Howe’s team that the Red Devils could look to exploit.
The pundit told CaughtOffside: “Newcastle United’s Kieran Trippier is a great set-piece taker, we all know that, but for him to be taking free kicks, especially deep ones, on the left flank makes little sense to me,”
“With an EFL Cup final coming up, I wonder if Man United have picked up on that and highlighted it as an area of potential weakness because if Trippier finds himself out on the left taking a free kick and United pinch it back quickly, they’ve got someone in Marcus Rashford who they could look to play in quickly and it could be devastating for Newcastle.”
The Verdict: Major concern?
It is true that Howe will have to be cautious about Erik ten Hag’s side threatening on the counterattack, especially considering that Rashford is in exceptional form at the moment, scoring ten goals in his last ten Premier League games.
However, Newcastle have by far and away the best defensive record in the top flight for a reason, and they managed to keep Man United at bay earlier in the campaign, limiting them to just two shots on target in a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford in October.
As such, Pope being suspended is likely to be a far bigger concern for Howe than the potential problem that Collymore identified, and Newcastle will be hoping that Karius can step up to the plate on the big occasion.