Watford will be intent on ending their run of four consecutive defeats with a win at home to struggling Newcastle United, who ended their own winless streak last time out.
Quique Flores has entered his first difficult period as Watford boss in recent weeks, where the only success has come against Saturday’s opponents in the FA Cup third round. They have the ability and the character to return to form, but until they do there will be a little concern about the potential for a slide down the Premier League table, particularly if they play like they have in their previous two outings, which have yielded no goals and indeed very few shots on target.
They were somewhat late to the party on Monday at Swansea City, where despite an improvement after the break they were made to pay for a wretched first half display. With the two strikers lacking in quality service their most likely source of a goal was Jose Manuel Jurado, who had numerous efforts on goal over the course of the evening, but back at Vicarage Road against a side battling relegation, the Hornets will expect to arrest their current slump.
An impressive and fully deserved victory over West Ham United was not enough to lift Newcastle out of the bottom three, but it certainly showed signs that they are heading in the right direction, with new signing Jonjo Shelvey making a terrific impact in the midfield. The presence of the former Liverpool man allowed them to play in a different way to what they have done previously this term; it was more stylish and forward thinking.
Here he faces an intense battle with the likes of Etienne Capoue and Valon Behrami, who never attempt to shirk a challenge, so it will be far from easy for him to dictate the play and pick holes in the home defence. As for top scorer Georginio Wijnaldum, if he can take his form in front of goal at St. James’ Park to away matches, then promising times surely lie ahead for the Tyneside club, whose squad clearly possesses an increasingly spirited bunch of individuals.
New Watford signings Costel Pantilimon and Norman Amrabat could be in the squad as they look to beat the Magpies for the first time this season.
The visitors have suffered another injury setback as Jack Colback has been ruled out, and he joins a lengthy list of stricken personnel which includes Papiss Cisse, Gabriel Obertan, Vurnon Anita, Massadio Haidara and Siem de Jong.
Last Meeting: The final weekend of the 2006-07 season saw already relegated Watford claim a point from a 1-1 draw, sealed by a penalty from Marlon King seven minutes after half-time. Kieron Dyer had given Newcastle the lead with a composed finish on his final appearance for the club, but Glenn Roeder’s reign was not to end in a victory as King converted after Nicky Butt was penalised for handball.
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