For all the talk of a new era at St. James’ Park over the summer, Monday’s insipid 2-0 defeat at West Ham felt like a return to square one for the Magpies, who sit bottom at this stage of the season for the second consecutive season as they host Watford this weekend.
Steve McClaren has hinted that he could make some changes after the poor display at Upton Park; Rolando Aarons, Siem de Jong and Ayoze Perez all featured from the bench in East London and are pushing for starts this weekend. Steven Taylor remains absent with an unspecified injury, whilst Paul Dummett is still a few weeks away from a return.
Newcastle have not scored since the opening day, and Aleksandar Mitrovic will miss this weekend’s match as he serves the second match of a three-game suspension. In all, the stats do not make happy reading for Toon fans; Newcastle have won just four times since Boxing Day last year and have collected just 10 points from a possible 36 at home in 2015.
Hoping to take advantage of the hosts’ vulnerabilities and a potentially volatile home crowd are Watford, who go into the fixture full of confidence after picking up their first win back in the Premier League against Swansea last weekend.
Odion Ighalo’s strike was the Hornets’ first goal since the opening day and was enough to seal a 1-0 win at Vicarage Road, the forward celebrating his new five-year contract in fine style to earn a much-needed three points.
Watford have been defensively solid under Quique Sanchez Flores so far – last Saturday’s shut-out was their third clean sheet from their opening five games. The Hornets have no fresh injury concerns and will fancy their chances of recording a first win at St James’ Park since 1981.
League Position: Newcastle – 20th, 2pts; Watford – 13th, 6pts
Last Meeting: Watford 1-2 Newcastle (February 7, 2010)
Form: Newcastle – DLDLL; Watford – DDDLW
Key Men: Newcastle – Florian Thauvin; Watford – Odion Ighalo
Shoot Says: Newcastle 1-0 Watford