Watford v Newcastle United preview: Nordin Amrabat in line for Hornets debut
By Richard Morgan
Last Updated: 23/01/16 2:01pm
Watford may hand Nordin Amrabat his debut when they entertain relegation-threatened Newcastle United at Vicarage Road on Saturday afternoon.
The Morocco international completed his £6.1m move from Malaga on Monday and if he starts, the 28-year-old will boost a side whose 1-0 loss at struggling Swansea City last time out was their fourth in a row in the Premier League.
In fact, Quique Sanchez Flores' men having not won since beating Liverpool at home in December and after scoring in 11 successive league games, the Hornets have now failed to net in each of their last two.
However, the home team will be boosted by the fact they have already done the double over Newcastle this season, once in the league at St James' Park and once in the FA Cup at Vicarage Road earlier this month.
The Magpies, meanwhile, may head into this contest in the relegation zone, but they are unbeaten in their last three fixtures in all competitions.
A win on Saturday would leave Steve McClaren's team just five points behind their opponents.
Winger Amrabat is in line to make his Watford bow, although Flores is still unable to call upon both Joel Ekstrand and Tommie Hoban.
The visitors could be without defender Paul Dummett, who has a hamstring problem.
And if the Welshman misses out, he will join the likes of Papiss Cisse, Siem de Jong, Kevin Mbabu, Gabriel Obertan, Massadio Haidara, Steven Taylor and Vurnon Anita on the club's injury list.
If Watford have conceded in a competitive home match this season (five times), they have gone on to lose that game.
The Magpies have scored just six goals in their last 16 away league matches.
Odion Ighalo has scored six goals in his last six Premier League appearances at Vicarage Road.
Newcastle have conceded a league-high seven goals from outside the box in the Premier League this season.
Georginio Wijnaldum has no goals and two assists in 10 Premier League away appearances this season, compared to nine goals and one assist in 12 PL apps at St James' Park.
Only Manchester United (7) have kept more clean sheets in the Premier League at home this season than Watford (6).
I worry about Watford. They are on a glass mountain with slippers on and they're sliding very quickly. People point to their league position and how many points they've got, but they just went and lost four games on the spin. If they lose this game, Newcastle shoot up and Watford get sucked in - but if they can win, I would probably say they would go on and stay in the Premier League.
If they lose this game, they are right back in the relegation mix. I've seen teams in higher positions than them go down. People are wising up to playing against Troy Deeney and Ighalo now, and I fancy Newcastle to nick a win. McClaren is turning a corner and he's bought well. They are a strong team, they have quality and now they are starting to believe in themselves.
PAUL PREDICTS: 0-1 (Sky Bet odds 17/2)
Watford are 21/20 with Sky Bet, while Newcastle are 11/4 and the draw is available at 23/10.
The Hornets have already beaten the Magpies twice this season, 2-1 in the league at St James' Park and 1-0 recently in the FA Cup at Vicarage Road and can be backed at 11/4 to win by a one-goal margin for the third time this season.
Deeney and Ighalo have both been on target against the Toon this term and can be backed to net at 11/2.
Newcastle remain in the drop zone, but have picked up four points from their last two matches, with Wijnaldum netting in both games. The Dutchman is 17/2 to net the opener and 3/1 to score anytime.
Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas is tipping Watford to win 2-1 at odds of 15/2. Check out his and other predictions from our Sky pundits here.