Newcastle have the opportunity to go farther than they have ever gone in the FA Cup under the Mike Ashley regime with a win in their 4th round match up against Watford.
Both teams come into this match in good form as Watford have gone unbeaten in their last 5 matches and Newcastle are coming into the match after 2 straight wins.
This season Newcastle have played Watford twice, winning at home and drawing at Vicarage Road. Both matches saw both teams playing their first team lineups, which is likely not going to be the case for this weekend’s match up.
Newcastle have a tough string of matches coming up as they host Manchester City on Tuesday, travel away to Tottenham the following Saturday, and travel to Wolves a few days afterwards. This makes it imperative that Rafa is wise with his team selection as Newcastle are not in a position to drop points in the league and are playing with a slew of injuries.
Nonetheless, Rafa has made it a goal of his to reach the 5th round of the FA Cup and we can be sure that Rafa will be prepared to challenge Watford tactically regardless of the strength of the lineup played.
This is a welcome bit of news for Newcastle fans as Newcastle have not been successful in their FA Cup pursuits, not having won it after 1955. It’s doubtful that fans are expecting an FA Cup win this season, but it would be nice to advance past the 4th round for the first time in 13 years.
Newcastle will be without Paul Dummett (Hamstring), Jonjo Shelvey (Thigh) and Mo Diame (Hip) who are all close to returning, but will not be available this weekend. Additionally, Newcastle are going to be without South Korean International Ki Sung-yueng who picked up a hamstring injury during the Asian Cup. It has now been revealed that he is expected to miss 2 more weeks due to this injury, which is less time than many fans feared.
Newcastle will welcome the return of Federico Fernandez and Kenedy, who will likely make their return to first team football this weekend.
Watford’s star midfielder Abdoulaye Doucouré is set to miss the match with a knee injury and Kiko Femenia (hamstring) is expected to be out as well. Watford will have Will Hughes and Craig Cathcart available for selection as they return from injury.
Both teams are expected to roll out similar lineups to what they have been playing so far in the FA Cup as it seems both teams are more focused on league play. Newcastle could reintroduce Kenedy and Fernandez into the lineup with the goal of getting them back to proper match fitness ahead of a crucial slate of league matches.
Newcastle (4-1-4-1) - Woodman, Manquillo, Fernandez, Clark, Sterry, Schar, Kenedy, Longstaff, Roberts, Ritchie, Joselu
Watford (4-3-3) - Gomes, Masina, Britos, Wilmot, Janmaat, Chalobah, Cleverley, Quina, Penaranda, Hughes, Success
Newcastle come into this game with the most confidence we have seen them have this season, the players seem to really be invested in reaching the 5th round of the FA Cup, and Rafa seems as if he is tactically the better manager. Newcastle should win this one, but not without striking fear in the hearts of fans for the last 20 minutes.
Prediction: 2-1 (Newcastle)