Newcastle vs Watford preview: Rafael Benitez says team are 'close' to first win
Ciaran Clark ruled out and Troy Deeney remains a doubt
Last Updated: 03/11/18 1:28pm
Newcastle will seek to win a Premier League game this season at the 11th time of asking when they host Watford at St James' Park on Saturday (3pm kick-off).
Last weekend's 0-0 draw with Southampton saw Rafael Benitez's side extend their winless run this season to 10 matches and they have only scored three goals at home so far this season.
Newcastle have never failed to win any of their first 11 matches in a single top-flight campaign in the club's history, but Benitez believes they are close to turning things around.
He said: "Obviously it's not easy when you are not winning and you are so close, because if you are too far away, sometimes you say, 'OK, we cannot'. But we can - we showed that last year, and we've showed that in a lot of games this year.
"I think that we can do it and we have to keep the belief, because we are not conceding too many goals and we created chances in a lot of games. It's just a bit of luck in one game, in that you score the first goal and then you can manage the game, and everything will be different."
In contrast, Watford start the weekend in seventh place - two points clear of Manchester United - but head coach Javi Gracia is expecting a tough game.
"They are a good team, they have a very good coach," he said.
"They are looking for their first win, they are working very hard to try to get it and we need to be ready for a difficult game, for a tough game."
Newcastle defender Ciaran Clark, who had earlier recovered from a thigh injury, will miss the game after being laid low by a bug earlier this week
Although he has returned to training, he is not in the squad for the game at St James' Park.
Fellow defender Florian Lejeune remains the only other senior casualty, although he is making good progress in his recovery from cruciate ligament surgery.
England midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah is set to return to the Watford squad following a minor knee problem.
Forward Troy Deeney, though, remains a doubt as he recovers from a hamstring injury.
Defenders Sebastian Prodl (leg) and Daryl Janmaat (knee) are also still sidelined, along with midfielder Tom Cleverley (Achilles).
- After winning two and drawing two of their first four Premier League meetings with Watford, Newcastle have lost the last four in a row.
- Newcastle have lost all five of their Premier League home games so far this season - no top-flight side have ever lost their first six, while the last side to do so in any division were Watford in 1990-91 (second tier).
- Watford have won seven points away from home in the Premier League this season (W2 D1 L1) - two more than they earned from their previous 48 available on the road (W1 D2 L13).
- Newcastle have failed to score in four of their last five Premier League games, with their only goals in this run coming in the first 10 minutes of their 2-3 defeat at Man Utd.
- Watford's Andre Gray has scored in both of his Premier League appearances against Newcastle, netting in both such games last season.
- Watford's Roberto Pereyra has scored as many goals in 10 Premier League games this season as he did in 32 in the competition last season (5).
Newcastle fans won't be happy with this, but I've got to go for Watford. At the moment I just can't see where Newcastle are winning a game or even scoring a goal.
I think Watford are the most underrated team in the league, alongside Bournemouth; both very good. They're fast on the counter-attack, they're big and strong. Newcastle have to come out and try to beat somebody at some point, but I'm going 2-0 Watford.
PAUL PREDICTS: 0-2 (12/1 with Sky Bet)