The FA Cup third round weekend is one of the best of the footballing calendar with entertaining football and cup upsets always being on show. This all Premier League tie is an interesting one to follow as they are in contrasting positions in the league and that may affect their outlook on the cup competition. Watford are all but safe despite back to back losses in the Premier League and they could really attack the FA Cup. Meanwhile Newcastle are currently in the bottom three, which is a huge concern for the club, and they may rest players this weekend with an eye on the Premier League.
Watford have been a revelation this season and have been somewhat overlooked due to the incredible form of Leicester City. The strikeforce of Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo has been very exciting to watch and both are being linked to bigger clubs. The appointment of Quique Sanchez Flores was a great decision and he is already being touted as the next big thing in management, which will worry the Watford fans as there is a chance a bigger club may come in for their manager as well as their players. This is always an issue for smaller clubs when they do well, and it will be interesting to see if Watford can consolidate, or if they are forced into losing some of their biggest assets over the next six months. They have a great chance of going far in the FA Cup this season and they must take it seriously.
After a run of good performances and frustrating results, a break from the pressures of league football might be welcome for Steve McClaren, who hasn’t shied away from talking up his side’s chances in the cup competitions. Although you would expect sides at the bottom of the league to put a weakened line up out in the FA Cup, some take the opposite view and see the cup as a way to boost confidence in the squad. They have been unlucky recently and they need to go out and strengthen this window in order to boost the squad ahead of a huge second half of the season.
In the league meeting earlier this season, Watford beat Newcastle at St James’ Park. Odion Ighalo scored a brace, before Daryl Janmaat got a goal back in the second half. The last time the two sides met in the FA Cup was in 1989 and Watford won the tie thanks to a replay.
Watford have scored in their last eleven matches, which highlights the attacking threat that the side possesses.
Newcastle haven’t won in the FA Cup third round since the 2011/12 season.
Troy Deeney is beginning to make an impact in the Premier League and has been linked with Arsenal in recent weeks, which may just be paper talk, but it shows how excellent he has been this season. He plays a more withdrawn role, but the work he does allows Odion Ighalo the freedom and space to score goals. Deeney himself has scored six goals and got five assists, which is an excellent return for his first season in the top flight and if he continues to impress, he could even be a long shot for the European Championships. Deeney is strong in the air and his passing ability is brilliant for a striker as he has shown on countless occasions this season. He has also performed against the bigger sides in the league, which shows he has the temperament and the quality to have a sustained career in the top flight. Newcastle have struggled to restrict opponents from having chances this season, which is why Deeney will be pivotal this weekend as he is the main creative force in the Watford side. He also has the physicality to bully the Newcastle defence in the air, which could be important as the Magpies’ defence isn’t very good aerially.
Newcastle have struggled in central areas this season with the partnership of Jack Colback and Vurnon Anita not being able to compete in the Premier League. The return of Cheick Tiote to the starting eleven against Arsenal was welcome and his performance was one of the big reasons Newcastle deserved more from the game. He dominated Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini and he had a 100% pass completion, which shows just how effective he was against a side that presses heavily in the final third. Tiote has been inconsistent since coming to England, but he has at times been one of the best midfielders in the league. Newcastle need the Ivorian to return to his best to provide their inconsistent defence with some protection. He will be important this weekend as Deeney likes to drop into the number ten position and he can’t be given too much space as he will cause damage.
Steven Taylor and Rolando Aarons are closing in on a return, but they won’t be back this weekend. Vurnon Anita, Papiss Cisse, Massadio Haidara, Tim Krul and Gabriel Obertan remain on the long term injury list. Florian Thauvin is pushing for a return to the starting eleven to add some creativity into the team.
Joel Ekstrand is the only player unavailable for Watford. Sanchez Flores has hinted at making some changes this weekend, which could see the likes of Victor Ibarbo, Steven Berghuis and Alessandro Diamanti get a chance to impress.
It will be an entertaining match at Vicarage Road, with both teams capable in the final third. Neither side will want a replay, which will only add to the attacking play on show and could result in a lot of goals being scored. Watford are favourites and quite rightly so, but Newcastle are a side who are improving and results will start to improve at some stage if they level of performance is maintained. However, I think Watford will win this one, with Odion Ighalo impressing once again.
Watford 3-1 Newcastle United