Following four league defeats on the bounce; including Monday night’s thoroughly disappointing result at lowly Swansea City (1-0), Watford will look to end their barren league form when they host fellow strugglers Newcastle United at Vicarage Road this afternoon (15:00).
The newly-promoted Hornets, who still lie eight points above the drop zone in 12th spot, will be looking to bag their first league point(s) of the calendar year following consecutive losses to the hands of Manchester City, Southampton and the Swans.
Meanwhile the visiting Magpies, who sit one point adrift of safety in 18th place, will be hopeful of securing back-to-back league wins following their impressive 2-1 victory at home to West Ham United last weekend.
Steve McClaren’s side will be spurred on by the prospect of Newcastle lifting themselves out of the bottom three with all three points at Vicarage Road this afternoon, with 17th placed Swansea not facing Everton until tomorrow (Sunday).
However Quique Sanchez Flores’ side have already beaten today’s opponents twice this campaign; a 2-1 Premier League victory at St James’ Park back in September, plus an FA Cup third-round triumph (1-0) earlier this month back in London.
Another win for Watford this afternoon would give the home side their first-ever top-flight double over the Magpies.
But having taken just one point from a possible 15 since Christmas; the Hornets will be begging star striker Odion Ighalo can spearhead their resurgence by continuing his hot goalscoring streak at Vicarage Road today, with the Nigeria international netting six goals in his last six home appearances.
Further encouragingly for Watford; Newcastle has lost 1-0 in each of their last three away matches in all competitions, coming at West Brom, Arsenal and back at Vicarage Road for January’s FA Cup loss.
The Magpies’ magnificent summer signing Georginio Wijnaldum also fares much worse away from home than at St James’ Park; with the Netherlands international bagging no goals and only two assists in ten away matches, compared to nine goals and one assist back up in Tyne and Wear.
Hornets boss Flores could hand a debut to winger Nordin Amrabat following his £6m January move from La Liga side Malaga earlier this month.
Meanwhile fellow new addition Costel Pantilimon, who signed a three-and-a-half-year deal with Watford after joining for an undisclosed fee from Sunderland on Tuesday, is also expected to make the matchday squad.
However Watford are still without long-term absentees Lloyd Doyley (Neck) and Joel Ekstrand (Knee).
Newcastle manager McClaren could be forced to play midfielder Jack Colback as a makeshift left-back if Paul Dummett fails to shrug off a hamstring strain he suffered last weekend against West Ham.
Elsewhere; striker Ivan Toney (Ankle) has been ruled out for at least 10 weeks, joining a long list of teammates including Papiss Cisse (Groin), Siem de Jong (Eye), Kevin Mbabu (Thigh), Gabriel Obertan (Hamstring), Massadio Haidara (Knee), Steven Taylor and Vurnon Anita (Both hamstring) in the treatment room.
League Positions: Watford – 12th (29 pts); Newcastle United – 18th (21 pts)
Previous Meeting: Watford 1-0 Newcastle United, January 9, 2016 (FA Cup)
League Form: Watford – WDLLLL; Newcastle United – DLLLDW
Key Players: Watford – Odion Ighalo; Newcastle United – Georginio Wijnaldum
Shoot Says: Watford 1-2 Newcastle United