Aside from the two side’s bids to finish in the top 10, this one is the very definition of a dead rubber – however Benitez will be desperate to avoid a third straight defeat.
Our turnaround in form in 2018 has been superb, but back to back defeats to Everton and West Brom mean our season is in danger of ending on a sour note if we don’t pull our socks up here.
Watford are on awful form themselves, having not won in nine now, but we don’t tend to have too much success at Vicarage Road. That may need to change tomorrow if we’re serious about consolidating our spot in the top 10.
The likes of Palace, Bournemouth and Watford are all just three points away from us, so that combined with our tough final two games of the season (Spurs and Chelsea) put the emphasis on us to get three points here.
Staying up was the aim, so this season has to be seen as a success regardless of where we end up now, but it’d be far better if we can finish 10th opposed to 13th – with each place in the league accounting for almost £2m prize money.
Rafa has confirmed there’ll be a few changes and I’m glad to hear it after two pretty abject displays over the last two weeks.
Here’s the side I’d like to see:
A few changes and some fresh blood could be just what this team lacking motivation needs. Merino and Murphy will be eager to impress and force their way back into Rafa’s plans.
Here’s a few players to watch out for:
Abdoulaye Doucoure – One of the most underrated player in the league for me and someone I fully expect to earn a big move this summer. Mo Diame will have a big battle on his hands here.
Andre Gray – A player we looked at last summer but someone who’s scored just four goals all season. He’s missed plenty sitters whenever I’ve watched him so lets hope he keeps that up tomorrow.
Richarlison – Tore Yedlin apart when they romped to a 3-0 win at St James’ Park when we met earlier in the season. His form has dipped since, but he’ll still be one of their biggest threats.
Gerard Deulofeu – Looks like he’s back fit for this one after coming on the bench against Spurs on Monday night. He’s tricky, quick and has plenty quality too. Hoping he’s not ready to start, but fear he could be the difference is he does.
Predicted Watford XI – (4-4-2) – Karnezis – Femenia, Cathcart, Kabasele, Holebas – Hughes, Doucoure, Capoue, Perreya, Richarlison – Deeney.
For an inside look into this weekend’s opponents, take a look at the latest edition of the ‘Opposition Opinion’ . A great insight into this weekend’s opponents.
Newcastle – 10th (41 pts) – Last 5 in the league – Won: 3 / Drawn: 0 / Lost: 2
Watford – 13th (38 pts) – Last 5 in the league – Won: 0 / Drawn: 2 / Lost: 3
Atsu and Clark have been ruled out of this one. Merino is back in contention after returning to training, but Slimani will miss out from suspension.
Expecting changes after what Rafa said in his press conference today.
Barcelona loanee Gerard Deulofeu could return after making an impact from the bench on Monday on his injury comeback.
Troy Deeney is fit, but midfielder Roberto Pereyra remains a doubt with a groin injury.
They wiped the floor with us at St James’ earlier in the season, but both team’s fortunes have changed quite a bit since then.
I see us having a bit more about us and am hoping possible starts for Merino and Murphy give us a fresh injection of urgency, but this one just stinks of draw for me.
They will want to end their winless run and we’ll want to get some points back on the board, so a scoring draw seems about right to me.
Prediction: Watford 1-1 Newcastle
Howay the lads!