Newcastle: Journalist excited by Saint-Maximin’s form heading into the cup final
The Athletic’s George Caulkin has been encouraged by what he’s seen of late from Allan Saint-Maximin heading into Newcastle United’s Carabao Cup clash.
The Lowdown: Big players have to step up
It’s been far from a pleasing season for Saint-Maximin on Tyneside, with the Frenchman having gone from one of the first names on the teamsheet to being used sporadically off the bench in most games by Eddie Howe.
Saint-Maximin has only started seven Premier League games this season and was only handed a run of starts of late following the suspension Bruno Guimaraes picked up – and he has seemingly repaid Howe’s faith in that time.
The Frenchman was the Player of the Match in Newcastle’s last game against Liverpool, which will be encouraging for fans and Howe, as he may now be ready to kick on at Wembley.
The Latest: Saint-Maximin must carry his form into Wembley
Caulkin claimed on Pod on the Tyne that Saint-Maximin’s uptick in form is encouraging for Newcastle’s chances of winning the Carabao Cup on Sunday.
He said: “I thought there were shades of Man City in that performance [against Liverpool], and that is hugely encouraging. In some ways, the circumstances don’t matter too much, because it’s just good, I think, for him and the team for us to see that he can still give that energy and be that effective.
“I think that’s the real positive to carry into the weekend, that suddenly, you’ve got that threat again. And on that form, he will cause Manchester United problems.”
The Verdict: Huge chance to impress on the big stage
It may not be much of a surprise to see Saint-Maximin stepping up his game, as he is reportedly in talks over a new contract, and there would be no better way to show PIF he deserves a bumper deal than by leading the Magpies to glory on Sunday.
Given that Guimaraes is set to be back and ready to start on Sunday at Wembley, he could well help Saint-Maximin play even better by giving him those progressive passes as he’s done so often this season – he ranks second in the team for that metric (FBref).
Saint-Maximin certainly won’t be providing much cover defensively having won just two tackles in his own final third, but if he can put Manchester United on the back foot and pin back someone such as Aaron Wan-Bissaka, he could well justify a starting spot.