Watford vs Newcastle United preview: Hornets look to build on vital victory
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Four games and a maximum of 12 points remain to be played for. What will be the tally necessary in order to ensure Premier League status for another season? Only time will tell.

Crucial match for Watford, who will be looking to extend that three-point gap between themselves and the relegation zone — an impressive position to be in given their early season form, including a 12 match wait for their first league win of 2019/20. Survival looks much more likely with Nigel Pearson than it did under his predecessors.

Victory against bottom-of-the-table Norwich City last time out was a must, and it was duly obtained, thanks in no small part to a spectacular overhead kick from Danny Welbeck, his first league goal in Hertfordshire. With AFC Bournemouth and Aston Villa hoping to steal their place in 17th, the Hornets simply have to build on that result here.

Newcastle United are easily clear of the relegation dogfight, and that's a real credit to the undervalued work of manager Steve Bruce. As it’s transpired, it’s actually been a fairly fruitful campaign on Tyneside, which could bode well for the future.

In their last assignment, the Magpies were simply outclassed by a rampant Manchester City side, losing 5-0 at the Etihad Stadium. Regardless, they’ll view three points at Vicarage Road as genuinely attainable, especially being unbeaten against the current bottom four sides since November.

Previous meetings

The most recent encounter was a 1-1 draw at St James’s Park in August — Watford had lost all three of their opening games, but got off to a perfect start through Will Hughes before Fabian Schär equalised to see the spoils shared.

Newcastle have not won in any of their five Premier League visits to Vicarage Road, losing two of them.

Furthermore, the Magpies have won just one of their last eight meetings with the Hornets.

View from the dugout

[Watford head coach Nigel Pearson]

“Steve’s a very experienced manager, he’s somebody who played in the same era as me and he’s been successful for sure, and the Newcastle job is not an easy one to be a success in.

“They’ve had some decent results, the other night [against Man City] is a difficult night, but expectations at Newcastle are high, of course they are. He’s an experienced man and he’ll be working in the same way to finish the season as strongly as possible.

“We know that so far since the restart we’ve found it difficult, the atmosphere or the circumstances which surround match days now are very different, but it was just important for us to win the other day and we achieved that, so now we’re looking at the next game.”

[Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce]

“In 38 games Im sure most teams have had those awful days. In football you have the chance to go again and we’ve got it around the corner. I expect and demand a better performance and I’m confident the players will do that.

“When you look at what Watford have got on paper then you wonder why it’s been a struggle, but that’s the Premier League. Nigel has done a wonderful job in turning them round. It will be tough, that’s for sure, so we’d better get ready for it.”

Team news

Watford have no fresh injury concerns.

Their long-term absentees remain Gerard Deulofeu, Daryl Janmaat and Isaac Success.

For Newcastle, skipper Jamaal Lascelles could return, but Emil Krafth is unlikely to feature.

Miguel Almirón and Allan Saint-Maximin will both be assessed having missed out in Manchester on Wednesday.

Predicted XIs

Watford — Foster; Femenía, Kabasele, Dawson, Masina; Capoue, Hughes; Sarr, Doucouré, Welbeck; Deeney.

Newcastle United — Dúbravka; Yedlin, Fernández, Lascelles, Manquillo; S Longstaff, Shelvey, Bentaleb; Gayle, Joelinton, Saint-Maximin.