Watford 2 Newcastle 1 – Saturday 5 May 3pm
Newcastle have gone from ridding teams of their managers when playing them (Mark Hughes – Stoke, Mauricio Pellegrino – Southampton), to now trying to ensure clubs stay up.
West Brom’s victories over Newcastle last week and Spurs today, mean that remarkably they are still breathing.
Watford’s victory means they are now mathematically safe and speaking of maths, the first half today suggested Newcastle were heading for their worst hiding of the season.
At the break it read seven shots on target for Watford and none for Newcastle.
Poor defending from Paul Dummett saw Newcastle go a goal down in under 120 seconds, Pereyra the beneficiary.
One-time supposed NUFC target Andre Gray then made it two on 28 minutes, for once Martin Dubravka letting himself down in terms of commanding the box. Totally getting a cross wrong and leaving the Watford man with a simple header.
Six minutes before half-time, it was Paul Dummett once again at fault, bringing down Gray in the box for a spot-kick.
Dubravka redeemed himself slightly with a double save, Deeney failing also with a rebound after his first effort was saved.
A small positive was that at least Newcastle showed some fight after the break.
Rafa obviously giving them a rocket up the wherever after an embarrassing 45 minutes, the United boss also changing formation to a three/five at the back.
Newcastle were better and Watford probably guilty of sitting back to protect a rare lead, the hosts not having won in the last seven games and only picking up two points.
The effort paid off as some rare incisive passing saw Shelvey release Manquillo down the right and his excellent cross was expertly turned in by Ayoze Perez.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, game on!
Summing up the lack of strength in depth, the first two subs were fringe players who had been given a game, Ritchie on for Murphy and Yedlin taking over from Manquillo.
Perez did hit the outside of the post but clear chances were hard to find as Newcastle pressed.
NUFC won on corners and possession stats but still ended the game with only the one shot on target.
Newcastle did have seven shots in total after the break compared to Watford’s three – but the damage was already done, Newcastle’s poor defending leaving an attack short on quality too much to do.
Stats from BBC Sport:
Watford 2 Newcastle 1
Watford: Pereyra 2, Gray 28
Newcastle: Perez 55
Possession was Watford 39% Newcastle 61%
Total shots were Watford 11 Newcastle 9
Shots on target were Watford 8 Newcastle 1
Corners were Watford 2 Newcastle 5
Referee: Roger East
Dubravka, Manquillo (Yedlin 67), Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett, Murphy (Ritchie 53), Shelvey, Diame (Merino 84), Kenedy, Perez, Gayle
Darlow, Hayden, Joselu, Haidara
Crowd; 20,375 (2,000 Newcastle)