Newcastle United will have to overcome an in-form Watford side if they are to achieve their first win of the season, having endured a ten game sequence without a victory to begin the 2018/19 campaign.
The Magpies sit 19th in the table with just three points to boast of so far, one of which came at Southampton last weekend.
Rafa Benitez’s men were lucky to get anything from the game, relying heavily on the remarkable goalkeeping efforts of Martin Dubravka, who faced 22 shots — significantly more than the six attempts mustered by the Slovakian's teammates, none of which tested Saints stopper Alex McCarthy.
Yet Newcastle are capable of being a more productive attacking outfit than last weekend suggested. They took a total of 40 shots in recent losses to Brighton & Hove Albion and Manchester United, and will be hoping to replicate that creative output on Saturday in search of more goals to boost a rather meagre scoring tally of six.
Life is much rosier for the visitors. Watford have now won two games on the bounce, prevailing over Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux before a 3-0 victory over Huddersfield Town last weekend.
Head coach Javi Gracia appears to have found a functional balance between defensive stability and attacking dynamism. His side have conceded the sixth least goals so far in the Premier League, while all three goals in the win over the Terriers demonstrated the wealth of talent currently at the Spaniard’s disposal.
As such, the Hornets will be confident of securing a result as they make the 266-mile trip to Teesside.
Watford have beaten Newcastle in every encounter between the two sides since the Hornets won promotion to England’s top flight in 2015.
In 2017/18, Watford upheld that record with a 3-0 win at St James’ Park in November, before Roberto Pereyra and Andre Gray scored the goals in a 2-1 triumph at Vicarage Road in May.
Newcastle will be without centre-back Florian Lejeune, who is yet to feature so far this season due to ligament damage which required surgery.
However, Ciaran Clark could be in line for a return against Watford, while forward Ayoze Pérez is also in contention to make the match-day squad having suffered a knock during the week.
Gracia revealed in a press conference on Thursday that midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah is fit after recovering from a minor knee problem and will travel with the Watford squad.
However, Chalobah’s compatriot and club captain Troy Deeney is unavailable through a hamstring injury which has kept him out of action since the 4-0 defeat to Bournemouth about a month ago.
Sebastian Prödl, Tom Cleverley and former Magpie Daryl Janmaat remain sidelined.
Newcastle United - Dubravka; Yedlin, Lascelles, Fernandez, Dummett; Ritchie, Shelvey, Diamé, Kenedy; Pérez; Muto.
Watford - Foster; Femenía, Mariappa, Cathcart, Masina; Doucouré, Capoue; Hughes, Pereyra; Deulofeu, Success.