Southampton manager Nathan Jones has warned Newcastle they have to be beaten at some point.
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Eddie Howe’s side take a narrow 1-0 lead into the second leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final tonight thanks to Joelinton’s goal down on the south coast last week.
Still, as is increasingly becoming an issue for Newcastle, they missed a number of good chances to take the game out of the Saints’ sight.
That, of course, leaves Jones’ team with a chance, albeit on a remote one given the respective form of the two sides. Still, with an expert free-kick taker in the form of James Ward-Prowse and nothing to lose at this point, one can hardly write Southampton off.
It all comes down to this. Newcastle are a draw away from making a first domestic cup final since 1999.
What has Jones said about the Carabao Cup semi-final?
Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Monday, the Welshman said (via BBC Sport): “They are not going to go the rest of their lives without getting beaten so why not tomorrow night?
“It’s a game of football and anything can happen.
“We played well in the first leg and, with a bit more belief and aggression, it could have been something different.
“It’s a really acutely-poised cup tie and that is how we are treating it.”
Is Jones right?
Absolutely, Newcastle will lose a game at some point. There will be a time when the defence are breached and, given the balance of the tie, it would not be impossible for it to happen tonight.
The pressure is on Howe’s side. Playing in front of home support is of course a major bonus, although Southampton could well use that to their advantage. Quite what an early away goal would do to the nerves inside the stadium does not bear thinking about.
Still, this Newcastle team have earned the right to be trusted. Built on solid foundations and largely without the baggage of the previous eras, they are approaching a semi-final second leg expected to win it for a reason.
This is newfound territory for Newcastle in the modern era. Perhaps it’s time to get used to it.