Mark Lawrenson might have a point this time
Mark Lawrenson has no doubt as to how Rafa Benitez will react to the game at Anfield.
That Boxing Day hammering was the biggest defeat in the near three years the manager has been at St James Park.
Mark Lawrenson declaring about Rafa: ‘He turns the screw even more to try to make it more difficult for teams to beat them.’
Not that the NUFC boss would have suddenly sent his team on the offensive on Saturday, though fans would generally like to see a little more adventure shown than we saw in the Huddersfield and Fulham matches.
As Rafa Benitez indicated after Newcastle’s tough opening schedule, he was determined not to have his underinvested squad demoralised by a series of big defeats to the better teams.
Watford aren’t one of the best teams but they are a dangerous one, if they’d had a decent striker on the pitch at St James Park they would have been out of sight by half-time.
Instead, Newcastle rode their luck and Ki Sung-yeung came on and inspired them to victory, bringing to an end five straight defeats to Watford in all competitions.
The Hornets have won five and lost four at Vicarage Road, including victory against Tottenham. What they do appear to have are the creative and goalscoring players who can punish weak teams at home, with Palace, Brighton, Huddersfield and Cardiff all beaten so far.
Little doubt that Rafa Benitez would take a point now if offered and with Man Utd and Chelsea to follow, he will be desperate to get something on Saturday.
No doubt we will see another back five in operation but at least Salomon Rondon will be back up front after being rested against Liverpool.
Can Newcastle find a way to create chances for him though AND keep it tight at the back?
Mark Lawrenson doesn’t see Rafa’s team being able to deal with Watford’s attacking threat and goes for a 2-1 home win.
In this final game before the transfer window opens, the manager will be wondering whether there is any help on the horizon, in the shape of much-needed better quality players in the final third.
Mark Lawrenson talking to BBC Sport:
“Newcastle were well beaten by Liverpool on Wednesday and I know what Magpies boss Rafael Benitez is like after a heavy loss…
“He turns the screw even more to try to make it more difficult for teams to beat them.
“They will try to keep Watford quiet but I don’t see that happening.
“The Hornets are inconsistent but they have got some very exciting attacking players and they have also got some goals in them.
“If they play well, they tend to win.
“Prediction is Watford 2 Newcastle 1.”
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