Watford v Newcastle preview: Rafael Benitez set to make changes
Last Updated: 05/05/18 3:06pm
Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez plans to make changes when his side face Watford in the Premier League on Sunday.
With three games of the season remaining, the Magpies have little left to play for as they are already assured of survival.
Benitez says he will "change players to keep fresh legs", but is keen for a response after back-to-back 1-0 defeats to Everton and West Brom.
"A team like us, we have to be organised, we have to play with intensity and everything has to be done with the same pace and the same passion we had in the past," he said.
"Our idea is to get three points in every game, especially when you lose a couple. We will make some changes, trying to keep everyone on their toes."
Watford are not mathematically guaranteed to stay up this season but look to be safe as they hold a six-point cushion over the bottom three.
They have, though, gone seven games without a win as their form has again dipped at the end of the season.
Newcastle will be without striker Islam Slimani after he admitted a Football Association charge of violent conduct for kicking out at West Brom defender Craig Dawson.
Benitez will also be unable to call upon defender Ciaran Clark and winger Christian Atsu, who are both out with knee problems, although midfielder Mikel Merino is fit after missing out last weekend with a similar injury.
Watford should welcome back Roberto Pereyra after he returned to full training.
However, Nathaniel Chalobah (knee), Younes Kaboul (foot), Stefan Okaka (thigh), Andre Carrillo and Tom Cleverley are out.
Watford have won their last three Premier League meetings with Newcastle, including a 3-0 win at St James' Park in the reverse fixture. Only against Stoke (5) have they ever won more consecutive games against a single top-flight opponent.
Newcastle have never won a top-flight away game against Watford (P7 W0 D4 L3) - only away against Wimbledon (10) have they played more without a victory.
Watford are winless in seven Premier League games (D2 L5), failing to score in five of those including each of the last three.
The Hornets have lost a league-high five Premier League games in which they've led so far this season, with two of these coming in home games.
Newcastle are one of three teams yet to score a Premier League penalty this season, while Watford have conceded a league-high six goals from spot kicks in 2017-18.
Richarlison has failed to score with any of his last 50 shots in the Premier League, the longest such run in the competition this season.
Charlie Nicholas' prediction
I think Javi Gracia is fighting for his job and could see that motivation be the difference here.
I've gone for a narrow home win but it could easily be 0-0 with neither side having much to play for.
Charlie predicts: 1-0 (6/1 with Sky Bet)