Newcastle United welcome Watford to St James’ Park in a relegation six-pointer showdown at the foot of the Premier League.
Victory would see Newcastle climb out of the relegation zone and go 17th, whereas Watford can move five points clear of the Magpies with a win and stay out of the bottom three.
Chris Wood is a slight doubt for Newcastle after signing from Burnley in midweek despite suffering a minor groin injury.
Martin Dubravka (toe) is a doubt but Karl Darlow, Ciaran Clark (both fitness), Federico Fernandez (thigh), Jamal Lewis (hamstring), Javier Manquillo (suspension), Isaac Hayden (knee) and Callum Wilson (calf) are absent.
Watford could welcome Emmanuel Dennis back from a knock which saw him sit out last weekend’s FA Cup exit at Leicester.
Ben Foster (groin), Christian Kabasele (calf) and Kiko Femenia (hamstring) are doubts but Peter Etebo (quad), Kwadwo Baah (ankle), Nicolas N’Koulou (hamstring) and Ismaila Sarr (knee) remain absent.
Imran Louza, Adam Masina and William Troost-Ekong are away on international duty at Africa Cup of Nations.
- Newcastle have won just one of their last ten league meetings against Watford (W1, D4, L5).
- Watford are unbeaten in three of their last five league visits to St James’ Park (W2, D1, L2).
- Three of the last four league meetings in this fixture has finished 1-1.
- No foreign Newcastle player this season has scored more goals than France’s Allan Saint-Maximin, who has netted four goals in 19 league appearances.
- Two of Emmanuel Dennis’ eight league goals for Watford this season have been scored via headers.
Having had a week-and-a-half off prior to last weekend’s FA Cup action, there were little excuses for Newcastle to lose at home to Cambridge yet somehow they did through a lack of poor finishing and more defensive blunders when they needed a cup run for morale purposes.
Chris Wood’s arrival though should hopefully reinstall extra firepower up front given his goalscoring talents, particularly because the Magpies need to start scoring more goals and improve defensively if want to stay up.
Watford meanwhile realistically couldn’t of done with a FA Cup run because of their recent injury crisis and focus definitely has to be on survival, especially after their progress in their last league outing despite losing to Tottenham because they did look more positive overall as a team.
Now if they can continue that improvement and find their scoring boots first in this match, I can see them continuing their recent form against Newcastle, yet the Magpies will be buoyed by Wood’s arrival so expect a closely competitive game.
Prediction: Newcastle 1-1 Watford
Result: Newcastle 1-1 Watford