Southampton have a clear mission and are worth a poke at 21.020/1 to sneak a 1-0 win
A stalemate sends the Magpies through so a lay of the draw specialists at 1.51/2 also makes sense
Newcastle in golden position
Newcastle are now massive favourites to book their place in next month's Carabao Cup final after doing what many expected of them in the first leg of their semi against Southampton at St Mary's: grinding out a 1-0 advantage.
They did so via a Joelinton strike 17 minutes from time after the Brazilian had seen a first-half effort controversially ruled out.
This column tipped that outcome at 7.413/2 - predicting such a scoreline wasn't exactly rocket science the way Newcastle are playing - and after a fifth 1-0 win in 15 matches it could pay to keep some chips on that same scoreline.
A 1-0 success for Newcastle in the return at St James' Park is 6.611/2 although many will predict a more comfortable win given that their early elimination from the FA Cup meant they went without a game at the weekend. That extra freshness could be key.
Newcastle have lost just twice in 26 matches this season and that first-leg success puts them in golden position to land their first piece of silverware since 1969.
With Manchester United scoring a 3-0 win at Nottingham Forest in the first leg of the other semi-final, it looks big odds-on that fans will be pouring down from the north to watch a Newcastle v Man Utd Carabao Cup final on Sunday, February 26.
Saints still fighting
Southampton, of course, will have something to say about that and they're in a better position than Forest to deny the final that probably most neutrals would like to see.
Trying to avoid relegation will be the priority for most at St Mary's and a 1-0 home defeat to Aston Villa in their latest Premier League outing left the Saints rooted to the bottom of the table.
Cups can be viewed as a welcome distraction but Southampton boss Nathan Jones knows that the club's exploits in the Carabao and FA Cups have bought him time and the chance to build momentum.
As well as reaching the last four of this tournament thanks to a shock 2-0 win over Manchester City, the Saints are into the fifth round of the FA Cup after 2-1 victories over both Crystal Palace and Blackpool, the latter coming at the weekend.
Those successes make Southampton's current form look much more palatable. Add in a 2-1 Premier League triumph at Everton and the south coast side have won four of their last six matches.
Break it down to away games and Southampton have won both their road trips in 2023. They go to St James' Park knowing that this is far from done.
Magpies red-hot favourites
The market suggests the hosts will make it to Wembley by winning both legs.
In the match odds, Newcastle are just 1.491/2 to take victory in 90 minutes while Southampton are 8.27/1. The Draw, which is enough for Eddie Howe's men, is 4.57/2.
In the To Qualify market, Newcastle are as short as 1.081/12 to go through while Southampton are dismissed as 12.011/1 chances to make the final.
So, is this one done? Is this simply a case of Newcastle showing why they're 17 places above Southampton and cruising through in front of a noisy St James' Park crowd?
Hmmm. I'm not so sure.
Teams are always vulnerable when they know the hard work has been done in the first leg. Yes, there's a chance of a quick kill but what if this is still 0-0 at half-time? From that position, do Newcastle stick or twist?
To that element of doubt can be added the weight of history. The Toon Army are very aware that their team are trophyless since the 60s. If the aggregate score is still close, that anxiety will filter down from the stands.
Banging in an early goal or two would alleviate that but Newcastle are finding it hard to score at the moment - they've managed just five in seven - while Saints have tightened things up at the back.
Value in a reverse 1-0
So, I'm going to try and cash in on the idea of this being an awkward night by flipping the scoreline tip from last week and backing Southampton to win 1-0 at 2120/1.
Yes, it's a bit of a punt but the price looks too big given that plenty of the right elements seem in place. Southampton are on a clear mission - they have to win the game - and Newcastle have fired blanks in three of their last seven matches.
It's not that long ago, 2017 to be precise, that Southampton won a Carabao Cup semi-final second leg at Liverpool. The score: 1-0.
Lay of Magpies makes sense
A broarder way of making profits from the hosts having an uncomfortable night is simply to lay Newcastle at 1.51/2.
Having the draw running for us when such a result will edge the Magpies through is certainly no bad thing.
The reason why Newcastle are not really ready to launch a title bid yet is that they swallow too many stalemates. In 20 Premier League games they've played out nine draws and four of those have come at home.
Howe's biggest improvement as a manager since returning from a break is his ability to organise a defence and that's why Newcastle have by far the best goals against record in the top flight.
If we're at 70 minutes and the game is still 0-0 (1-0 on aggregate), the Magpies will lean on their defensive stability rather than launch too many attacks. And that would suit us just fine.
Ward-Prowse a Bet Builder option
Any Bet Builder play that is pro-Southampton/anti-Newcastle should probably feature James Ward-Prowse as the goalscorer.
The free-kick specialist has four goals in his last three away games which is impressive.
Tying it in with the recommended bets, Ward-Prowse to score in a draw is around 2221/1. And Ward-Prowse to score in a 1-0 win pays over 7574/1.