After a humbling 4-0 defeat to Liverpool on Boxing Day, Rafa Benitez will be hoping resting key players at Anfield will give Newcastle the advantage against Watford.

The Hornets are on something of an inconsistent run of late, having played both Chelsea and Man City in their last five matches.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Losses to those top sides came either side of a draw against Everton, and then wins against Cardiff and West Ham.

The games themselves have been thrilling, with Watford’s defensive frailties appearing at just the right time for Newcastle.

When the teams met in November, Newcastle were lucky to nick the win and Watford will be looking for revenge at Vicarage Road.

With Newcastle needing a win, Benitez has some interesting decisions to make with his starting XI.

A return for Perez and Rondon

Rested against Liverpool, Benitez is likely to bring back duo Ayoze Perez and Salomon Rondon.

The pair had struck up some form of late, particularly Rondon who’d scored four goals in seven matches.

Without the Venezuelan on the field, Newcastle no longer look like threatening goal. The side will need him against Watford.

Perez also proved the difference against Watford last time the sides met and will be hoping he can have the same effect on Saturday.

Shelvey comeback?

Benitez has confirmed Shelvey has won his fitness race for Watford and will be included in the squad.

Due to Ki Sung-yueng’s absence on international duty, the manager may well be forced to play the Englishman despite lack of match fitness.

(Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images)

His only other options are Isaac Hayden or youngster Sean Longstaff.

It would be something of a risk playing Shelvey, but without him Newcastle will once again be setting up ‘not to lose’.

Schar rejoins the back line

Benitez seems attached to a back five formation at the moment and is unlikely to change against Watford.

Schar was a revelation against Watford in November and has never looked back after taking that chance.

Dummett will likely move back into left-back, reuniting the back three of Fernandez, Lascelles and Schar.

Kenedy dropped as Ritchie and Atsu move back in midfield

Kenedy has continued to disappoint in recent weeks and without Ritchie in midfield Newcastle really suffer.

The Scotsman is Newcastle’s most creative player in midfield but was used as a left-wing back last week.

Without him in midfield, the Toon never look as threatening. He’s likely to move back into midfield with Kenedy back on the bench.

Atsu has also impressed in recent weeks and once again deserves a chance to make an impact at Vicarage Road.

(Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United)

Related Topics