Watford (H): Pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted line-ups

The FA Cup 4th round. It’s sad to say, but it’s not often we get this far – another line that sums up the Mike Ashley era..

It feels like our struggling league season has meant we’re unable to take the FA Cup quite as seriously as we’d like to yet again this year, but we can’t underestimate the momentum and confidence it could give us.

Last week’s replay at Ewood Park went the distance and could’ve been seen as a costly day – being a tiring night where several players picked up injuries or knocks – however we pulled through, winning 4-2 that night and following that up with a monumental 3-0 win over Cardiff a few days later.

Time will tell, but I believe the best way to approach this one would be to star a FEW of our key players and aim to win. At least then we may just have a spring in our step ahead of what promises to be one of our toughest games of the season at home to Man City next Tuesday.

Predicted XI

With injuries and rotation in mind, here’s the side I see Rafa starting for this one:



It looks like Darlow won’t be leaving this month and is back in training after several weeks out, but I expect Woodman to get another shot in goal.

At full-back the likes of Manquillo and Sterry will be hoping to get more game time, but Rafa could field a slightly stronger side given we’re up against Premier League opposition with a superior squad to us. I think Yedlin and Manquillo may start.

Fernandez missed Cardiff through illness but has returned to training this week, so I expect him to start. Lejeune may be given another run out, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Clark start alongside the Argentine, with Lascelles, Lejeune and Schar having all played the full 90 last weekend.

In the middle of the park we’re hardly spoilt for choice right now. Shelvey and Diame are ‘better’ according to Benitez but neither will be risked, so I can’t see beyond a Hayden and Longstaff pairing once again.

Like Fernandez, Kenedy missed Cardiff due to ‘illness’ so I’m quite sure he’ll start this one. There’s talk of Murphy going out on loan so it’s hard to know if he’ll be included. Another chance for Callum Roberts would’ve been nice, but I think Rafa will go for a stronger side in this one – meaning the likes of Perez, Ritchie and Atsu may start.

Rondon could well be rested after yet another tireless and invaluable all round display in the 3-0 win over Cardiff. With that in mind, Muto away at the Asian Cup and Sorensen now on loan at Blackpool, I’d put money on Joselu starting up top.

Opposition Opinion:

Here’s a few thoughts from Watford fan @HornetShane:

“I’m not as confident as I was for the game at the Vic. You lot did a job on us and it’ll be another tough afternoon. Its not the draw we necessarily wanted and that’s been reflected in the ticket revenue (we’re bringing 600 fans despite having a 6,000 allocation!).

“I personally want us to go on a cup run and I hope Javi does take it seriously. Reckon we’ll make 4 or so changes as some of the bench players and a couple of reserves may well get a chance centre stage.

“Ultimately, this is a completely different mindset form our 3rd round tie vs Woking- we had time, space to move the ball and Woking never really troubled us- bigger, more familiar test vs Newcastle

“Adalberto Peneranda made his debut vs Woking and may well come in again, definitely a danger man. Also, Ben Wilmot and Domingos Quina are two youngsters that may get game time and are two highly rated players as well. Elsewhere, think it’ll be a interesting game for Janmaat if he starts as he’s been very outspoken about his old club.”

“It’s a game I think we can win and ultimately it can’t be worse than the game earlier in the season (surely not!!). I think we’ll nick it 2-1..but wouldn’t surprise me if it went to a replay.”

Team news

Kenedy and Fernandez are back after overcoming illness. Shelvey, Diame and Dummett are ‘progressing’ but won’t be risked for this one says Rafa – with Ki expected to be out for a week or two with a hamstring injury.

Fortunately for us, Watford’s star man Abdoulaye Doucoure has been ruled out. Right-back Kiko Femenia is also injured, meaning ex-Mag Daryl Janmaat could be set to start on his return to St James’.

Match Prediction

It’s hard to predict based on the total unpredictability of both line-ups, with us not knowing whether ourselves or Watford will field our strongest sides.

That said, they have a stronger squad and superior senior options in reserve – so I’m not too confident if it’s our fringe men and kids against a pretty full strength Watford side. After all, they are 7th in the league.

It’d be potentially the most frustrating result for Rafa, but I can see this one ending in a draw. I think we’ll take it seriously and give it a proper go, but I can see this going to an unwanted replay at Vicarage Road.

Prediction: Newcastle 2-2 Watford

Howay the lads!

(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at [email protected] & we’ll get back to you!)

About Olly Hawkins

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

44 thoughts on “Watford (H): Pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted line-ups

  1. Roberts did more in the replay at Blackburn than Kenedy has done all season. Don’t see how Kenedy makes it a stronger side. What a way to encourage youth Rafa! Thought Roberts might at least make the bench.

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  2. F-off Joe Root. You compound terrible selection errors with a total capitulation. I would strip him of the captaincy for this.

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  3. FOOTBALL | OLIVER KAY
    january 25 2019, 5:00pm, the times repost
    Mike Ashley is failing to deliver on and off the pitch at Newcastle United as rivals laugh their way to the bank
    oliver kay, chief football correspondent

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    Even now, the bare facts of Mike Ashley’s ownership of Newcastle United are best digested with a glass of water. Two relegations, a solitary finish above tenth place in the Premier League, a solitary appearance in the last 16 of either FA Cup or League Cup and, just in case you imagined that this highly successful businessman has transformed Newcastle’s fortunes away from the pitch, a mere £600,000 increase in annual commercial revenue over 11 years in which other clubs have been laughing all the way to the bank.

    That £600,000 figure probably bears spelling out. Newcastle made £27.6 million in commercial revenue in 2006-07, the final season under the ownership of the Hall family and Freddy Shepherd. Last season, according to figures released this week by Deloitte, they made £28.2 million. Over the same period, Manchester United’s commercial revenue has risen from £58.1 million (roughly double Newcastle’s) to £280 million (roughly ten times Newcastle’s); Arsenal’s from £42.7 million to £106.9 million; Liverpool’s from £43.1 million to £151.3 million; Tottenham Hotspur’s from £38.5 million to £103.2 million; Inter Milan’s from £25 million to £130.9 million; FC Schalke’s from £35.7 million to £93.7 million; Everton’s from a measly £6.7 million to £30.1 million — to say nothing of those clubs, such as Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, whose brand value has been inflated so dramatically as to arouse the suspicion of Uefa’s financial compliance department. To put it politely, Newcastle have bucked the trend.

    Newcastle supporters have seen their side fall behind their former rivals
    Newcastle supporters have seen their side fall behind their former rivals
    STU FORSTER/GETTY IMAGES
    All of this would be galling enough for Newcastle’s supporters even if their beloved St James’ Park, one of the great cathedrals of English football, were not splattered with billboards advertising Ashley’s high-street sports retail chain. It is doubtful whether any stadium in the Premier League — not even those bearing the name of a Middle Eastern airline, a credit card company, a health insurance provider or a brewery — screams “rampant commercialism” like St James’ Park does, or for such little benefit. At least Lee Charnley, Newcastle’s managing director, was able to reassure supporters at a fan forum event in October that “there is now an agreement in place whereby Sports Direct pays for all advertising in the stadium”. “Now”? Well, that’s good of them.

    When Ashley arrived in 2007, Newcastle had the sixth-biggest turnover in the Premier League and the fifth-highest wage bill. Full accounts for 2017-18, after promotion back to the top flight, are not yet available, but when they were relegated in 2016, their turnover was the ninth-highest (overtaken not just by Manchester City but by Tottenham, West Ham United and Leicester City) and their £75 million wage bill was only the 16th highest in the Premier League (lower than Crystal Palace, Leicester City, Southampton, Stoke City, Sunderland and Swansea City, among others).

    The fact that Stoke, Sunderland and Swansea have since followed Newcastle down to the Sky Bet Championship — and have shown altogether less gumption in trying to get back — is no justification for the parsimony on Tyneside. None of those clubs had anything like the platform that Ashley has had the opportunity to build on at Newcastle. Yes he inherited a £76 million debt and an underperforming squad, but this was a club that had great potential to move onwards and upwards with the right kind of investment — “one of the jewels, one of the diamonds of the Premier League,” as he put it in 2008. He talked back then of setting the club’s sights high. To have opted for a smaller club, he said, would have been “like settling for the high jump when you really want to do the pole vault. You want more excitement, so you go higher.”

    Ashley inherited a club with the sixth-biggest turnover in the Premier League, they have sinced bucked the financial trendAshley inherited a club with the sixth-biggest turnover in the Premier League, they have sinced bucked the financial trend
    PA
    Ashley wants excitement? Seriously? Because looking from the outside, it has seemed that his sole ambition for Newcastle has been a seat on the Premier League gravy train, which would see the business grow with every new broadcast deal. The only time there has been any notable surge of ambition is when underinvestment has led to relegation, which has led to a more aggressive approach in search of promotion. When Newcastle were promoted under Kevin Keegan in 1993, their ambitions soared. When they were promoted under Rafael Benítez in 2017, it was as if, once again, a place in the Premier League was all that Ashley required.

    There has been some investment over the past three transfer windows, but a total outlay of £70 million on Jacob Murphy, Florian Lejeune, Yoshinori Muto, Christian Atsu, Mikel Merino, Federico Fernández, Fabian Schär, Martin Dubravka, Joselu, Javier Manquillo and Ki Sung-yueng, plus various loans, smacked of a bargain-basement approach in trying to bring a Championship squad up to scratch. That outlay has largely been subsidised by sales in any case. That Newcastle’s three biggest acquisitions (Michael Owen, Alan Shearer, Albert Luque) and indeed seven of their 12 biggest came more than a decade ago, pre-Ashley, is remarkable in an era of transfer-market inflation.

    –– ADVERTISEMENT ––

    So too is the lack of investment in the club’s infrastructure. Whereas clubs such as Everton, Tottenham and Brighton have moved to highly impressive new training grounds over the past decade or so, and others such as Burnley and Wolverhampton Wanderers have revamped theirs at considerable expense, Newcastle’s plans for a new complex at Darsley Park, announced in late 2013 and initially scheduled for completion in early 2016, have not progressed. Newcastle’s accounts suggest that capital expenditure across the first decade of Ashley’s ownership was just £10 million. He said last year that “our training facilities have improved significantly during my tenure” and are “fit for purpose”, but Benítez is as almost exasperated by this issue as by the constraints he has faced in the transfer market.

    In 2015, in the grip of another relegation battle, Michael Martin, editor of the True Faith fanzine, wearily described Newcastle as “a zombie club, half-alive, half-dead, going nowhere.” A year later they dropped down to the Championship. It briefly seemed that there might be a realignment after that, a willingness to learn from past mistakes and to capitalise on the optimism generated by Benítez and a promotion campaign, but no, it remains a club in limbo. No buyer has been found to meet the owner’s £300 million-plus asking price for a club that, having stood still for so long (even pre-Ashley), needs serious investment.

    Whereas managers usually live in fear of a takeover, Benítez has been dismayed to see one potential buyer after another come and go. He is in the final months of his contract and is understood to be highly unlikely to sign a new deal unless something significant changes. No Newcastle fan will blame Benítez if he departs at the end of the season. Many of them are amazed he has stayed this long. They share his sense of disillusionment. That attendances remain so healthy — upwards of 49,000 for every league match this season — is testimony to the fans’ loyalty, which only accentuates the feeling of potential unfilled.

    There is still a perception in some quarters that Newcastle’s supporters, still giddy from the Keegan years, are asking for too much. They really aren’t. A sense of adventure, of hope, would be nice. Victory over Watford, to reach the FA Cup fifth round for the first time since 2006, almost feels like too much to ask in these straitened times. A banner unveiled at St James’ Park a few years ago read: “We don’t demand a team that wins. We demand a club that tries.” Is that really too much to ask?

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  4. I thought he’d fail his medical. What the hell are we doing messing about with sicknotes and loans ffs.
    Buy a couple of decent players ffs

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  5. KIMTOON:
    I thought he’d fail his medical. What the hell are we doing messing about with sicknotes and loans ffs.
    Buy a couple of decent players ffs

    Hear hear Kim… sickening in light of the fact we are 19th richest club in the world… very very depressing… 😔😔

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  6. Returning to the subject of Rafa playing a strong team ie no Sterry or Roberts on the bench. It was the strong team that got a rather fortunate draw at home to Blackburn. What has Kenedy done to deserve a recall? Rafa may have got it right but I am still disappointed in his selection. What kind of message does it send to the rest of the academy? Longstaff would only be there as a result of injuries.

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  7. Groucho:
    Returning to the subject of Rafa playing a strong team ie no Sterry or Roberts on the bench. It was the strong team that got a rather fortunate draw at home to Blackburn. What has Kenedy done to deserve a recall?Rafa may have got it right but I am still disappointed in his selection. What kind of message does it send to the rest of the academy?Longstaff would only be there as a result of injuries.

    Groucho – I agree mate, I’d be cutting Kenedy loose not recall him!!. We should be giving Roberts another go after his performance against Bburn. Give him a chance and build his confidence rather than some half ar$er who will leave at the end of the season anyway.

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  8. Andrew: Michael “Interesting” Owen’s default mode is a always a draw mate. It suits his personality to sit on the fence. Merson likes to be controversial and Lawro is usually predictable, picking the big teams to win and the bottom teams to continue to lose (not a bad strategy actually).

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  9. Where Lawro sometimes gets into trouble is where the big teams play each other but he has been OK this year as he always picks Liverpool and Man City.

    When the bottom teams play each other he usually picks against NUFC.

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  10. Actually, Lawro is totally biased in favour of Liverpool and against NUFC. Most weeks Lawro will go with a loss or a draw for NUFC. However, if we are doing better points wise than he has predicted he will throw in a win against a mid-table team to get his average up. What I mean is that if he has us on 10 points for the season and we actually have 20 he will predict a win so if anybody looks at predicted against actual, he will not seem as far off. BUT HE IS TOTALLY BIASED AGAINST NUFC, he is just a conniving pr!ck.

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  11. The Chronicle

    Verified account

    @ChronicleNUFC
    40m40 minutes ago
    More
    #NUFC to move again for Antonio Barreca after Lukaku deal fell through

    Apparently Barreca is rubbish no better than Maquillo, anyone watched him ?

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  12. KIMTOON:
    The Chronicle

    Verified account

    @ChronicleNUFC40m40 minutes ago
    More
    #NUFC to move again for Antonio Barreca after Lukaku deal fell through

    Apparently Barreca is rubbish no better than Maquillo, anyone watched him ?

    No Kim, but what’s the betting Monaco have just doubled the loan fee now our options have reduced 🙄

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  13. I’m really disappointed Rafa hasn’t shown loyalty and stuck with the likes of Sterry and Roberts and further that he’s playing Joselu and not giving Toure a chance (I’d have said Sorensen but he’s loaned him out).

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  14. Sharpy17:
    I’m really disappointed Rafa hasn’t shown loyalty and stuck with the likes of Sterry and Roberts and further that he’s playing Joselu and not giving Toure a chance (I’d have said Sorensen but he’s loaned him out).

    Sterry has joined Crewe on loan today.

    Agree re. Roberts mind – he coulnd’t have done any worse than Kenedy so far..

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  15. No shots on target for NUFC. I am trying to think of Joselu’s goals. There was that really good header against Chelsea. He has 2 goals right?

    Not meaning to pile on (maybe I am because we all know what he is) but how many shots on target has he had all year? That might partially explain the none on target today.

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  16. I’m watching the match, it’s on Bein sports here, but omg what a s.hit game… Murphy Longstaff and Ritchie seem like only ones trying… hoss is crap, Hayden crap, Kenedy even more crap…

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  17. The Chronic have taken at calling Chris Waugh “Waughy”. I can think of many nicknames but worry about Olly’s swear blocker. I will stick with ‘the intern”.

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  18. Glad i’m not watching this, it’s bad enough listening tbh. And now we are losing, oh the utter joy of being a Toon fan .

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  19. I don’t care how badly you are playing, how out of form-sorts-confidence you are. You are a professional forward, at least you should be able to take a corner – Ritchie, Kenedy, Murphy?

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  20. Dubai Toon:
    I’m watching the match, it’s on Bein sports here, but omg what a s.hit game… Murphy Longstaff and Ritchie seem like only ones trying… hoss is crap, Hayden crap, Kenedy even more crap…

    agree 100%,plus no way should have been beat on near post he was as slow as my gran at getting down to it

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  21. icedog: agree 100%,plus no way should have been beat on near post he was as slow as my gran at getting down to it

    Ice: do you mean Woodman? I have only seen him 3 times and he has been crap each time. Loan him out and keep Elliot.

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  22. Olly Hawkins: Sterry has joined Crewe on loan today.

    Agree re. Roberts mind – he coulnd’t have done any worse than Kenedy so far..

    Olly – your joking aren’t you???

    Sterry has played better than Manquillo when he’s played and we loan him out??? Same with Sorensen – he couldn’t do any worse than Joselu – and if given the chance and he does well, his confidence could take him on.

    Bad call from Rafa that like.

    Oh look – 1-0, another FA Cup early exit 🙄

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  23. Sharpy17: Olly – your joking aren’t you???

    Sterry has played better than Manquillo when he’s played and we loan him out???Same with Sorensen – he couldn’t do any worse than Joselu – and if given the chance and he does well, his confidence could take him on.

    Bad call from Rafa that like.

    Oh look – 1-0, another FA Cup early exit

    Did you expect owt less mate

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  24. Rory Burns not a test opener despite his high score on a pudding of a pitch. He hits the ball in the air too much for test cricket.

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  25. I actually get a 7 day free pass from ESPN to watch the FA Cup games. I didn’t want to waste it on NUFC and have saved it for later rounds.

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  26. What a F.ucking pile of sh.it our team is.. F.ucking joke… 😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡

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  27. That all important 17th place finish is our owners aim

    Just f uck off Jabba and let us have a football club again 👿

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  28. What a total load of dross. The whole lot of them should be ashamed of themselves. I’m totally losing faith in Rafa too. That was a fairly big crowd and he put out a team guaranteed to lose. Hayden Kenedy Joselu truly dreadful.

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  29. Good job we played our strong side. Don’t want young lads holding us back when we can play such stars as Kenedy and Joselu. I take no satisfaction that Rafa didn’t prove me wrong when I said I was disappointed with his selections or none selections.

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  30. Waugh-y says there were boos from “those who remained” at the final whistle. Will anybody at all be left in there for the Magpie Group sit-in against City?

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  31. There is something up with Kenedy and yet we are talking about sending Murphy out on loan. Both appear to be deadweights and yet can we afford to let them go? Desperately need Almiron in and I am not just jumping on the bandwagon there. I have watched him quite a few times and he would wake this lot up.

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  32. I never expected us to beat Watford but it would have been nice thou. I hate to keep saying this but we desperately need a new owner. His lack of ambition stink’s.

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  33. And England have 7 left handers when 1st and 2nd change after pace are off-spinners. Who picks these teams? I mean England AND Rafa today.

    I had hoped the Joselu era was over.

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