As is always the case in League Cup stages other than the semi-finals, which are two-legged, this is a single match in which one side must emerge victorious on the night, with extra time and penalty shootouts being used if necessary. The victors will advance to the semis alongside Chelsea, who beat Derby 3-1; Sheffield United, 1-0 winners over Southampton; and either Bournemouth or Liverpool, who play their match at the same time as us, with the draw for the next round taking place on Sky Sports 1 after today’s two ties.
We don’t have the best of histories with the League Cup; this is only the seventh time in the 54 years of this cup that we have made it to the quarter finals. The only goal we’ve been credited with at this stage was an own goal by Notts County in 1975 which secured us our only appearance in the semi-finals, a 3-2 aggregate victory over today’s opponents, setting us up for a 2-1 loss to Manchester City, including our former reserves coach Willie Donachie, in the final. The winning goal was an overhead kick was voted the greatest moment in the first 50 years of the competition and scored by boyhood Newcastle fan Dennis Tueart.
On the other hand, Tottenham have enjoyed their times in the League Cup; they’ve made it to the final seven times, winning it four, placing them behind only Liverpool, Aston Villa, and Manchester United for League Cup wins sub-sorted by final appearances. The League Cup seems to be Spurs’ preferred competition of the Premier League era, they’ve failed to make it to any other cup finals, but have been in four League Cup finals in that time, including wins in 1999 and 2008.
To get to this point Newcastle beat Gillingham 1-0, Crystal Palace 3-2 after extra time, and last year’s champions Manchester City 2-0. Tottenham entered a round later owing to their participation in Europe, then defeating Nottingham 3-1, and Brighton 2-0.
Both teams were involved in league action at the weekend, with Newcastle losing 4-1 to Arsenal on Saturday in a disappointing, shaky display where it seems that injuries and suspensions finally took their toll, albeit against a similarly depleted side. Spurs snatched a late winner against Swansea on Sunday to win 2-1 in a game that looked set for a draw or home win for much of the second half. Tottenham have made a habit of striking late this season, this match marking 12 points gained from goals in the final few minutes this campaign.
Moussa Sissoko and Steven Taylor are available again following suspensions, with Daryl Janmaat now serving a one match ban for yellow card accumulation. Papiss Cissé, Cheick Tioté, and Mike Williamson are all purported to be doubts for the match.
Mehdi Abeid, who was recently confirmed to be representing Algeria at the Africa Cup of Nations from January, is apparently still on the fringes of a return. Rob Elliot, Siem de Jong, Jonas Gutiérrez, Tim Krul, Gabriel Obertan, Davide Santon, Ryan Taylor, and now Rolando Aarons, who has hit a setback, are all likely out until some point in 2015.
Despite tabloids trying to draw sales/hits with claims that Freddie Woodman would start in order to preserve Jak Alnwick for the derby, Pardew has confirmed that Alnwick will start. He has also heavily hinted that Adam Armstrong will start, but also says that we will play a “very strong” with neither the League Cup nor Premier League getting selection priority.
For Tottenham, there are a couple of doubts in Eric Dier and Kyle Naughton. Emmanuel Adebayor is back from compassionate leave. Mauricio Pochettino isn’t afraid to heavily rotate his sides, especially considering that Spurs are in the middle of having 13 matches in a period of just over six weeks.
I expect Pardew to go with something similar to the above, although the main question for me is where he plans to play Armstrong, after having talked up his performances against Palace (centre-attacking mid in a 4-2-3-1) and Man City (isolated striker in a 4-3-3). Williamson missing out thankfully forces Pardew to play Taylor or Dummett at CB, and I feel that he’ll favour Taylor’s experience for this one. Dummett seems to be higher priority than Haïdara at left-back, so he takes that spot, then I expect Haïdara to fill in for Janmaat on the right.
The defensive/central midfield pairing picks itself from the available options on current form, especially with the under fire Tioté apparently ruled out. As Sissoko is needed in a deeper position, I expect Armstrong to reprise his centre-attacking mid role from the Palace game earlier in the cup. I’m trying to convince myself that Pardew can’t possibly elect to pick Gouffran again, and Obertan was hauled off at half-time last-time against Spurs, so it pretty much has to be Pérez and Ameobi on the wings, since Cabella doesn’t seem to be trusted to start.
This is what I’d go with:
I don’t like Dummett at left-back, so I’ve picked Haïdara over him there, and put Anita at right-back, where he performed well when called upon last season. The choice between Dummett and Taylor at centre-back is pretty much 50/50 for me, with Taylor the better but higher risk player. The other change I’d make is bringing in Cabella for Armstrong to make way for Pérez to play just behind Rivière and to actually be there to support him.
This is our most important game of the season so far, I’d like to believe that we’ll go into it fired up by the weekend's loss, buoyed by beating the champions to get here and knowing that we've already bettered Tottenham on their home turf this season, but I don’t see it happening, or if it does I think we’ll lack that final something to make it count and Spurs will nab another late winner. 2-1 Tottenham.
Where to Watch/Listen
The match is not broadcast live in the UK. Local commentary, as always, is on BBC Newcastle, with BBC Radio 5 live sports extra covering the game nationally, and talkSPORT overseas.