Newcastle face an in-form Watford at St. James’s Park this weekend in what is shaping up to be an exciting match.
Their games last season weren’t short of goals, although Newcastle did suffer two defeats.
This season both teams are in very different places in the table, with Watford flying high and Newcastle in the bottom three.
If Newcastle want to snatch their first win of the season, winning these battles will be key.
Deulofeu vs Dummett
Gerard Deulofeu’s return from injury two weeks ago has coincided with a bump in form for The Hornets.
Watford now play a 4-2-3-1, with Deulofeu given the central role behind the striker.
He’s proving dangerous in this new position and has averaged a shot every 30 minutes in his last two games.
Given Newcastle have conceded 154 shots already this season, Jamaal Lascelles and Federico Fernandez may have their work cut.
But it’s Paul Dummett who will really have to put in a strong performance against the winger.
The Spaniard has shown in recent games he still enjoys drifting onto the right wing to go one-on-one with the full-back.
Dummett previously suffered a torrid time against Deulofeu in 2014 when the winger played for Everton.
Newcastle lost 3-0 at home to the Toffees that season as Dummett was bamboozled by Deulofeu throughout.
The left-back will have to be far more resilient on Saturday if he wants to shut out the tricky midfielder.
Pereyra vs Yedlin
Roberto Pereyra is proving to be one of this season’s most exciting players.
He’s scored five goals already this campaign and almost all of them have had an air of the spectacular about them.
A player of this quality is almost undoubtedly going to cause problems for Newcastle.
He managed to score within just two minutes when the teams last faced each other in May as Watford won 2-1.
Javier Manquillo was guilty of giving the Argentinian an easy time of it on that day and DeAndre Yedlin won’t be looking to replicate that performance.
But he will still need all the support he can get.
The American will likely be relying on Matt Ritchie to provide able cover for the majority of Saturday afternoon.
Who will win the midfield battle?
Shelvey & Diame vs Doucoure & Capoue
This season’s most exciting midfield duo take on last year’s in a fantastic battle.
Unfortunately for Newcastle, they have last year’s.
Mohamed Diame has proved something of a liability in possession this season and it’s still unknown whether Rafa Benitez will stick with him for the Watford game.
But the Toon may well need him to match Watford’s tough tackling French duo.
Etienne Capoue and Abdoulaye Doucoure have been in scintillating form of late and totally shut-down an in-form Wolves side two weeks ago.
The likes of Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves were denied space and time on the ball and Jonjo Shelvey can expect the same treatment at the weekend.
While his talent is unquestioned, his consistency is not. Saturday is a fantastic opportunity for Shelvey to prove himself against the most in-form midfield duo in the league.
If he can make that perfect pass or dominate the centre of the park, Newcastle will be in with a shot against The Hornets.