Newcastle vs Watford Preview: All Premier League tie awaits in the FA Cup
Photo Credit:(Gettyimages/Catherine Ivill)

Newcastle vs Watford Preview: All Premier League tie awaits in the FA Cup

Following a 3-0 win at home against Cardiff City last weekend, will Newcastle be able to make it three games unbeaten against the Hornets?

James Baldwin

An all Premier League tie awaits as Watford travel to St. James' Park to face a Newcastle side looking to reach Round five of the FA Cup for the first time since the 2005-06 season.

The story behind the game

Newcastle enter this FA Cup tie with back-to-back wins in all competitions following their 3-0 win over Cardiff and a 4-2 win at Ewood Park which saw them beat Blackburn in an FA Cup replay.

Watford come off the bat of a dull, 0-0 draw at home against Burnley, but their away form is nothing short of impressive recently, with their last defeat away from Vicarage Road coming on the 1st December against Leicester.

Regarding the previous fixtures between these two sides, Newcastle had had a rough ride against Watford across the previous seasons - with the northern side coming away with no points from any of their matches in previous seasons - however, they have managed to take 4 points off the Hornets already this season.

A 1-0 win at St. James' earlier this season in November gave the Magpies a first win of the season, and kicked off a 3-game winning streak, and saw Rafa Benitez win manager of the month. More recently, Newcastle managed to gain a point at Vicarage Road in late December - with a Salomon Rondon header giving them the lead before Abdoulaye Doucoure equalised late on.

Prior to the 2018-19 campaign, the Hornets had a memorable 3-0 win at St. James' Park in November of 2017, which remains the Hertfordshire-based club's largest away win in their Premier League history. 

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Watford will be looking to replicate their cup run of the 2015-16 season under Quique Sanchez Flores, where they reached the Semi-final. Since then, it has been two Round 4 exits in the cup; with defeats at Millwall and Southampton respectively. They'll be hoping that the third time gives better fortunes.

Squad news

The home side are without Ki Sung-Yueng, who returned from the Asian Games earlier this week injured. Both Kenedy and Federico Fernandez are available for selection, however, following doubts regarding their fitness.

Watford, meanwhile, remain without Abdoulaye Doucoure due to a knee problem, whilst Kiko Femenia and Sebastian Prodl are also out. Will Hughes and Craig Cathcart have returned following a week on the sidelines.

Key clash

Troy Deeney vs Salomon Rondon

The two big strikers are set to face one another once again following the two previous games in the top tier, providing Javi Gracia and Rafa Benitez keep them both in the Starting XI.

Both Rondon and Deeney possess a similar characteristic in their game style; winning headers. It has become key to both teams and if either of these two win a header in the box, it could mean troubles for the opposition.

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It has been fair to say that Rondon has won both of the last battles - showing more threat and gaining an all-important goal in the last fixture. Whether the Hornets legend will be able to come out on top in Saturday's fixture will be key in deciding who gets into Round 5 at the end of it.

The bosses' view

During his press-conference, Benitez spoke of the importance of balancing the Premier League with the FA Cup, saying: "We have to use the squad because we have an important game in a few days [against Manchester City]...Will it be the strongest team in terms of match fitness? Maybe not. Will it be a team, in my opinion, that can go through and win the game? Yes, I think so."

Javi Gracia spoke of the importance of a Cup run to him and the club: "I don't like it when you change the side or give the chance to other players, and you are showing the FA Cup is not important to you."

The Hornets' boss also spoke of the fans' ambition as well as his, saying that "If you ask Watford supporters whether they want to reach the final or finish seventh, they will say they want to be first in the league, and to win the FA Cup, not seventh." Massive ambition from Gracia, although I'm sure that all Watford fans would be more than happy with seventh or an FA Cup Final.

With that being said, an interesting game ensues on Saturday between these two Premier League sides.