Newcastle United will travel south to take on Hull City at the KC Stadium on November 29th with a semi-final place in the EFL Cup at stake.
Although the upcoming clash may not necessarily rank as either club’s priorities this season, the prize at stake of a semi-final and to be 90 minutes from Wembley is certainly an attractive prospect that is difficult to hide from. The form of both sides are a stark contrast from each other. Hull currently sit 18th in the Premier League table, lurking just four points above Swansea for the wooden spoon. Newcastle of course sit top of the Championship, five points clear of second position after eight consecutive league wins.
Home advantage or not?
Hull go into the game at the KCOM Stadium with just two home wins this current season, collecting six points from a possible 18. All three of their EFL Cup wins this year have come on the road and although Hull fans should be relieved for a home tie, their ground hasn’t yielded much success as of yet this season. On the same note, Newcastle have won eight away matches so far with just the one defeat coming at Fulham on the season opener. Hull did win their last home match, however, with an impressive 2-1 win against Southampton.
Hull City eventually confirmed Mike Phelan as the first team boss back in October, after taking temporary charge since July following Steve Bruce’s departure. Despite endless success as number 2 to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, Phelan is relatively inexperienced as a first team manager. He had a caretaker manager stint at Norwich City in January 2015 but didn’t take charge of a game as the club were quick to appoint their new manager – Alex Neil. Phelan left Norwich just days after Neil’s appointment and with 15 games in charge of Hull so far, Phelan has won six in all competitions.
There would be no prizes to anyone able to successfully predict how Newcastle will set-up, with manager Rafa Benitez playing his trusty 4-2-3-1 formation throughout the majority of his time at Newcastle so far. The tricky question is who will appear on the team-sheet with constant rotation to his sides so far this season – bringing plenty of success. Questions such as Gayle or Mitrovic, Colback or Hayden, Atsu or Ritchie will not be answered until an hour before kick-off on the night of the game.
In complete contrast, Mike Phelan has fielded a range of different formations this season. The most popular formation has tended to be 4-3-3 but recently they have approached the 3-5-2 with the manager wanting to pack the midfield as the side suffered a drastic drop in league form. How Hull City will line up really is anyone’s guess.
Players to watch
Robert Snodgrass (Hull) – The Scottish international is top-scorer for the Tigers this season, netting five times in all competitions with one assist from midfield. The attacking-minded midfielder has found the net 10 times in 45 appearances for Hull since joining them in 2014, and is the spearhead of Hull’s attacking threat. The 29-year-old is a fan favourite on Humberside and could be influential against the Magpies. Snodgrass has tasted recent Wembley success with Hull in the 2015/16 Play Off Final against Sheffield Wednesday, and will be hoping to get his side there again this season.
Jonjo Shelvey (Newcastle) – If Shelvey does play (there are reports of a five game suspension for racism), then he could be key for Newcastle. Sitting in midfield, the ex-Liverpool and Swansea man has a fantastic eye for long-balls that have been very prolific this season. The 24-year-old already has three goals this season and a hatful of assists, proving a real handful for Championship clubs thus far. It is likely Shelvey will partner either Jack Colback or Isaac Hayden just like he has for the majority of the current campaign.
These two teams have played each other 18 times in all competitions, Newcastle winning nine and Hull winning five with four draws. The most recent clash at Hull ended in a 3-0 victory for the Magpies which was John Carver’s first win as caretaker manager following Alan Pardew’s resignation. Also who could forget the 4-1 triumph the season before that, when Pardew infamously head-butted Hull player David Meyler and suffered an seven game suspension. There is no doubt that Newcastle should be confident going into the clash going off current form, making them slight favourites with the bookies and there is every reason for their fans to be optimistic going into the clash.
The game will kick-off at 7:45pm on November 29th but will not be broadcasted live on Sky or BT Sport.