First Team 01/11/2018

Team News: Newcastle United

By Kevin Affleck

Watford will travel to Newcastle with extra midfield reinforcements after Javi Gracia revealed Nathaniel Chalobah is fit enough to return to the fold.

The England international has not played since the international break because of a minor knee problem, but he has taken a full part in training this week and will travel to St James' Park as part of the squad.

“He is fit,” said the Head Coach. “He was disappointed after he came back from national because he felt a little pain and last week he wasn't available. This week he has trained with the team and is fit and ready to play. We have lots of good players and Chalobah is one of them.”

Troy Deeney, though, looks set to miss out for a third successive match because of a hamstring problem.

“We are at the same point, the same situation with Troy,” said Gracia. “Troy is training but out of the team at this moment. We'll see tomorrow [if he is fit], but it's difficult for him to be available for the next game.”

Sebastian Prödl is definitely out, still sidelined by the leg problem he picked up as a second-half substitute against Wolverhampton Wanderers and he joins Daryl Janmaat and Tom Cleverley in the treatment room.

“They are players in a different process and I don't know when they are going to come back,” said the Head Coach.

Gracia is a glass half-full coach and always prefers to focus on the players he does have at his disposal rather than the ones unavailable to him. The ones he is selecting right now are doing a damn fine job, winning the last two by scoring five unanswered goals. Gracia feels the team is benefitting from a minimal turnover of players in the summer and consistency in the coaching department. He feels it gave them a head start on some of their rivals.

“We have this season a good squad, a lot of players who were here last season as well,” he said. “It's important as at the beginning, other teams needed more time to get to know their players, to adapt to new systems and new clubs. For us it was better as we knew each other. This was better for us. I have spent much time together with my players and I trust them all.”

There is a real buzz at the training ground, a real sense of excitement at the way the team are playing and what they could achieve this season. The Hornets find themselves in seventh on the back of their best ever start to a top-flight season, but Gracia will not be allowing anyone to rest on their laurels or operate in the comfort zone. He wants more, much more, and is constantly reminding the players as to the virtues underpinning their fine start to the season.

“After two wins, all the players feel confidence to play next game,” he said. “We know if we play 100 per cent, we are able to win the next game but if we don't, Newcastle can beat you. It's about our mentality, day by day, to be focused on the next game. We need to be very demanding on the next game to have the chance to get points.”

First Team 01/11/2018

Opposition Focus: Newcastle United

By Adam Rowe

Find out more about our hosts ahead of this Saturday’s game at St James' Park (November 3, 3pm KO). 


Nickname: The Magpies 

Manager: Rafael Benítez 

Stadium: St James’ Park – capacity 52,405 

Founded: 1892 

Trivia: Newcastle hold the joint record-biggest scoreline in English football, beating Newport County 13-0 in 1946.


First Division Champions (1904-05, 1906-07, 1908-09, 1926-27)

FA Cup (1910, 1924, 1932, 1951, 1952, 1955)

FA Charity Shield (1910)

Last Season

The Geordies managed to secure a 10th place finish in the Premier League at the end of the 2017/18 campaign. Despite the comfortable looking league position, Newcastle were, at times, amongst the pack of teams fighting to avoid the drop. An exceptional period in March and early April saw the Magpies pick up four wins in a row, which steered them well clear of trouble. Rafa Benitez’s side picked up a few scalps along the way too, as they beat Arsenal and Manchester United at St James’ Park. All in all, it was a successful season for Newcastle and Benítez rightly took a lot of plaudits for guiding his side to a top half finish.

Last Time Out At St James' Park

It was an afternoon to remember for the Hornets as they comfortably defeated the Magpies 3-0 late in November 2017. Goals from Will Hughes and Andre Gray either side of De Andre Yedlin’s own-goal meant it was a great afternoon on Tyneside for the Golden Boys. The win meant Watford continued their unbeaten record against Newcastle since returning to the Premier League. 

The Boss - Rafael Benítez

The Spaniard has become something of a cult hero at St James’ Park since he took over in 2016. After relegation from the Premier League, Benitez made sure the Geordies returned to the top-flight at the first time of asking as they went up as Championship title-holders. With perhaps less investment than he would’ve preferred, Benitez guided his team away from a relegation battle and into the top half of the table last season. An illustrious coaching career has seen him win the Champions League at Liverpool and the Europa League during his time at Chelsea. Despite their under-par start to this season, the Spanish manager certainly has the backing of the Toon Army.  

One To Watch - Jamaal Lascelles

The English centre-back is at the heartbeat of Newcastle’s backline and is a firm fans' favourite on Tyneside. The Magpies' captain has already racked up 60 appearances and is a threat from set-pieces at both ends of the pitch. Not many strikers in the Premier League will find themselves in for an easy game up against Newcastle’s number six. The former Nottingham Forest man will be hoping he can stop Watford’s attacking players when the Hornets make the trip north on Saturday (November 3). 

Played For Both - Daryl Janmaat 

The Hornets' right-back made the move to Hertfordshire from Tyneside in the summer of 2016. The Dutch defender enjoyed just over two seasons at St James’ Park, making 77 league appearances and scoring on four occasions. Since moving to Vicarage Road, Janmaat has made 59 appearances, scoring five goals for the Hornets, including the club’s Goal of the Season for 2017/18 – a fine run and finish against Chelsea at The Vic.

A Game To Remember - Newcastle United 1-2 Watford 

In September 2015, the Hornets travelled to Newcastle looking for their first away win after their return to the Premier League, and Quique Sanchez Flores’ men duly delivered as they ran out 2-1 winners. The Hornets raced into a 2-0 lead in the first half thanks to an Odion Ighalo double, but the hosts responded in the second half through then-Magpie Janmaat. However, the Golden Boys held on for a second Premier League victory of the season.