Following last week’s capitulation at Old Trafford, the ‘Opposition Opinion’ returns with some thoughts from north-west London ahead of tomorrow’s big game against Marco Silva’s in-form Watford side at St James’ Park.
As ever, we are looking to bring you a view from the other side before tonight’s game, interviewing an opposing fan to gain their opinions on NUFC, some insights into their own club and their thoughts on of our upcoming match.
This week we’ve been speaking to Watford fan Dom, who has had the following to say ahead of their visit to St James’ tomorrow:
Q1) What have you made of your season so far? We’re keen to know what sort of shape you’re coming into tomorrow’s game in?
“We’ve started really brightly. Marco Silva has got us playing much better football than we ever did under Mazzari. The difference is incredible.
“Our win against West Ham on the weekend ended a 3 game loss streak, but the performances have always been there. It’s hard not to think about where we would be if we hadn’t let leads slip against Everton and Chelsea.
“Worth mentioning that we play MUCH better away from home, because we can counter much more easily.”
“It’s all very positive in our camp.”
Q2) What do you make of our start to the season & Newcastle’s current side? Who do you see as our threats & is there any weak links in our team that you feel you can exploit?
“Newcastle have surprised and impressed me. I thought you’d go down in all honesty because of the Rafa’s open disappointment in the window.
“You look solid and organised but can score goals too. Matt Ritchie always caused us problems for Bournemouth in the Championship and Shelvey is a very dangerous player.
“Silva has always played with three up top be it in a 4231 or 343 so it’ll be interesting to see if either manager adapts as you seem to play a more organised and less expansive system.
“In terms of weaknesses perhaps Newcastle are missing a star man to grab a game by the scruff of the neck, but there’s plenty of talent to cause our defence problems.”
Q3) Likewise, who do you feel are the strengths & weaknesses in your Watford side – any players for us to watch out for on Saturday for any particular reason?
“This is the strongest Watford side I’ve ever seen.
“Gomes (goalkeeper) was brilliant against West Ham and has been very consistent for us.
“Doucoure and Richarlison have caused many teams problems. They are our two star men and won’t be at Watford for long.
“Richarlison is grabbing headlines and the attention of bigger clubs if newspapers are to be believed. He’s tricky, direct, has a low centre of gravity and great skill.
“Doucoure is our most important player. You stop him and you stop Watford.
“He’s a box to box midfielder and is strong, quick, tenacious and loves to get forward.”
“Our main weakness is a centre back. They are very poor and aren’t the biggest – so they may struggle if you put balls into our box or rough them up”.
Q4) How do you see the match panning out? Score Prediction?
It really could go either way.
We are a tough bunch, but if St.James Park gets rocking then any team struggles.
We have been very impressive away from home though, beating Southampton, Swansea and Bournemouth earlier in the season, also giving Chelsea a real game at the bridge.
If we can sit deep and get Richarlison and Gray running at the back 4 on the counter, it could be a long day for Newcastle.
“We do struggle from set pieces though and crosses into a crowded box. Marco Silva has been very defensive over his precious zonal marking system, but it hasn’t really worked so far.
“I’m very biased, but If I had to guess I’d go 2-1 Watford, with us grabbing a winner late on as you push for 3 points!”
Q5) How do you see both sides faring over the season? Predictions for rough league position?
“I think we’ll both have decent seasons. We’re both in that cluster of teams floating around the top half of the table.
“Newcastle look comfortable in the division. I think you’ll stay up, but with reinforcements in January, who knows how far you could go?
“It’s been a great start, but our success for the rest of the season hinges on Silva’s future I fear.
“I’ll go Newcastle to finish 13th and Watford to finish 9th.”
Q6) Marco Silva – He’s been a revelation since arriving in England and is working wonders with Watford, however we’ve seen him strongly linked with the vacant Everton job this week. What’s the feeling around that situation at your end and how do you feel it could impact on Saturday’s game?
“The Silva rumours are pretty strange and many fans are disgruntled about how he’s handled the speculation in the press.
“He’s clearly bought into the owner’s vision and has integrated a whole host of exciting young signings, but does he now wants to jump ship at the first opportunity? Something isn’t right there.
“Many fans are saying that if he wants to go we should let the door hit him on the way out, but our owners will look to get as much money possible if we can.
“I’m not sure it’ll affect the boys on Saturday as it didn’t against West Ham. I just wish Everton would go and pick on someone else.
“It looks like they’ve moved on and Silva is telling the press he only wants to focus on tomorrow’s game, but the speculation has hardly been ideal.”
7) Daryl Janmaat – He spent two seasons on Tyneside but left to join you boys last summer soon after our relegation. What have you made of him a year and a bit into his Watford career?
“I’m a big fan of Daryl Janmaat. He looked great in a wing-back role for us last season, but I’m not sure we have ever seen him play more than 3 games in a row!
“He’s ridiculously injury prone and hasn’t had the chance to really impress.
“Now he’s fit, he’s stuck behind right-back Kiko Femenia who has been phenomenal.
“He was left out of the squad entirely last weekend and may well be once again this time out, so I’m not sure the home fans will get to see Daryl on tomorrow!”
8) And finally – if you could make a combined XI from our two squads, what would yours be? (be honest!)
“To combine the two squads is tricky and I am biased. If everyone was fit..
“(4-5-1) Gomes – Femenia, Kabasele, Lascelles, Holebas – Pereyra, Doucoure Chalobah , Shelvey, Richarlison – Gray.
“Sorry but I bloody love this Watford team. Best of luck on Saturday!”
It looks like tomorrow’s game could be an interesting mix of styles. They have been dangerous on the road this season, but they like to play on the counter attack – something we’ve done all season. With this in mind, it sounds like we could play right into their hands if we throw too much at them.
We’ll certainly have to be more compact than we were against Bournemouth by the sounds of it.
A big thanks to Dom for taking some time to speak to this week, giving us another good read to whet our appetite for tomorrow’s crucial game at St James’. You get the feeling they’re on the crest of a wave at the moment, so we can expect a tough game.
We’ll be back early next week with the thoughts of a West Brom fan ahead of our clash with the Baggies at the Hawthorns next Tuesday
Here’s hoping for an improved performance and much needed result tomorrow – HWTL!