Watford will be looking for their first set of back to back wins following a 3-1 triumph away at Carrow Road when they take on Newcastle United on Saturday (25th September). The Hornets will however be looking to avoid a third straight defeat at Vicarage Road, having lost 3-1 to Stoke in the Carabao Cup and having slumped to a 2-0 defeat to Wolves in their last Premier League outing on their own patch. With this being a key contest for both sides, I look at what should be on the mind of Xisco Munoz going into the clash.
An equally important match for Steve Bruce’s men, Newcastle will be looking for their first win of the season following one point taken from their first five matches. Whilst it’s unquestionably a game where the hosts will have to look to take all three points, the Magpies will be entering the contest with exactly the same idea. Despite being completely uninspiring as a manager, Bruce has somehow guided the Toon Army to comfortable safety since his appointment. Even if you feel like it’s more luck than judgement on his part, that itself should send out a message that Newcastle can catch you by surprise if you underestimate them. You don’t need a world class scouting network to see that Allan Saint-Maximim is the visitors key man, his dazzling ball carrying and ability to make things happen means he carries the side. Munoz would be foolish to not come up with some form of plan for the winger as stifling the Frenchman drastically improves the Hornets chances of keeping Newcastle at bay. As a unit they may well play a slow, defensive tempo and play for moments so it’s important Watford don’t fall into this trap.
Hungry For Home Form
Watford’s opening two Premier League home games have been poles apart both in terms of performance and result. It’s evident that Munoz wants to play on the counter attack whenever possible and understandably so when you look at the pace in the team. However the pressing was too passive against Wolves and therefore finding some intensity within the midfield will have to improve if Watford are to win. They showed against Aston Villa the perfect balance of dropping deep to create space on the counter and hunting the ball high up the pitch when needed to give the visitors different problems to deal with on the day. To execute this strategy I think Tom Cleverley has become a must in the most advanced midfield role, he presses better than anyone at the club and this is where he excels as a player albeit he isn’t the most creative force he can set the tone for his teammates with his constant energy.
Finding stability in the side seems like the sensible way for Munoz to regarding team selection. Josh King is yet to score but has shown that he can give the Hornets plenty in attack with some promising link up play on occasions, whilst Dennis is proving to be key for the newly promoted side, as it means the club pose a threat on both flanks as previously there was too much dependence on Sarr. I would like to see Etobo partner Sissoko in the middle of the park and there has to be a question asked of Craig Cathcart coming out for either Francisco Sierralta or Christian Kabasele.
Set pieces and more so poor concentration have been Watford’s Achilles heel so far this campaign. The corner ‘routines’ against Wolves were embarrassing so it is a chance to draw up fresh plans for this game. No tactics however can prevent individual errors so you can just hope that the Watford back line is on high alert when it comes to these moments in the game. Newcastle have made a habit of scoring from set pieces in recent seasons when games are tight so lessons have to be learned in this department.
Preferred line up:
Foster, Femenia, Troost-Ekong, Sierralta, Rose, Etobo, Sissoko, Cleverley, Sarr, King, Dennis.