Eddie Howe’s black-and-whites, who sit 19th in the Premier League table, can leapfrog The Hornets and move out of the relegation zone with a win, while Claudio Ranieri’s men, in 17th, could move five points clear and put some distance between themselves and the chasing pack in their own survival bid.
This is the first of three season-defining matches for Watford in the space of six days as after their trip to the North East, they take on Burnley at Turf Moor on Tuesday evening followed by a Friday night showdown with Norwich City at Vicarage Road.
Despite just one win in all competitions this season, the mood around Newcastle is still very much upbeat following the arrival of their second January signing Chris Wood, who joined the club on Thursday for £25m from Burnley to become the most expensive 30-year-old in English top-flight history, according to Omar Chaudhuri.
This will be Howe’s 19th meeting in all competitions against Watford - the side he’s faced the most throughout his managerial career - but the The Magpies head coach has only won three matches and that record needs to change as Newcastle look to claim their second victory of the season.
However, there is an almighty challenge that lies ahead as Ranieri has a formidable record against The Toon Army, in 11 meetings in all competitions, he’s won seven, which will give Watford fans some comfort as The Hornets are seeking to avoid a club record seventh straight league defeat.
One thing is certain, a draw would do neither team any favours.
Team News - Newcastle
Newcastle have no serious injury concerns as Paul Dummett and Jamal Lewis are edging closer to a return from injury, but Howe admitted in his pre-match press conference that Covid-19 continues to affect his squad.
Team News - Watford
The most recent fixture between the two sides in September ended in a thrilling 1-1 draw at Vicarage Road. Sean Longstaff gave Newcastle a first-half lead, before Sarr rescued The Hornets a precious point on 72 minutes.
The Hertfordshire outfit thought they had snatched a late winner through Joshua King, but VAR intervened and deemed the Norwegian was offside, while Newcastle perhaps should have scored with the last kick of the game as Jacob Murphy squandered a golden one-on-one opportunity.
In the past 10 Premier League meetings, Newcastle’s sole victory came at home in November 2018 courtesy of a 65th-minute winner from Ayoze Perez, which earned Rafael Benitez’s side their first win of the season.
Watford are unbeaten against The Magpies in their last five matches in all competitions and their last top-flight victory at St James’ Park arrived in November 2017, when goals from Will Hughes, Andre Gray and an own goal from DeAndre Yedlin gave The Hornets a commanding 3-0 win.
Ones to watch
Chris Wood - Newcastle
The arrival of the New Zealand international caught not just Newcastle fans by surprise, but the whole footballing world given their financial wealth. Though, it appears to be a tactical master stroke by the new owners as they’ve not brought in just any forward, but a consistent goal scorer who knows what it takes to avoid the drop.
Crucially, with this signing, they’ve also weakened one of their relegation rivals in Burnley.
In four consecutive top-flight seasons, Wood scored over 10 goals for The Clarets and impressively is one of nine forwards to hit double digits in every season since 2017/18 and he’s the only player not to have played Champions League football in that illustrious group, which shows how reliable he is in hitting the target.
However, with only three goals in 18 appearances so far this season, Wood will be hoping to get off the mark on his Tyneside debut and use his aerial threat to his advantage against a leaky Watford defence, who have not kept a top-flight clean sheet since February 2020.
Emmanuel Dennis - Watford
In his maiden Premier League season, Dennis has already proven to be Watford’s most valuable asset.
He has been directly involved in 13 of The Hornets’ 22 goals this season, with eight goals and five assists. To add more context, only Liverpool’s Mohammed Salah has more goal involvements with a staggering 25 to his name this campaign.
The Nigerian was signed for an estimated £3.6m from Club Bruges in the summer and it proved to be an absolute bargain.
With upcoming fixtures against relegation-threatened rivals, The Hornets will be delighted that an administrative error prevented the 24-year-old from heading to this month’s African Cup of Nations as the in-form Dennis will be vital to their survival chances.
Newcastle United: Dubravka; Trippier, Lascelles, Schar, Ritchie; Fraser, S. Longstaff, Shelvey, Joelinton, Saint-Maximin; Wood. (4-5-1)
Watford: Foster; Cathcart, Sierralta, Samir, Kamara; Kucka, Sissoko, Kayembe, Sema; King, Dennis. (4-4-2)
Where to watch the game
This match is not allowed to be broadcast live in the UK because of the 3pm kick-off television blackout.
Highlights of the match can be seen either on Sky Sports Football’s YouTube channel or BBC One’s Match of the Day from 10:30pm.