Following last Sunday’s away day masterclass by Rafa Ben… I mean Steve Bruce, we reconvene this weekend for a vitally important clash with a slow starting Watford.
Our visitors’ form is a bit of a head scratcher. Three played, all defeats with a -8 goal difference is surely a concern to them. Especially, when you take into account they’ve only played Brighton, Everton and West Ham. I know there are no easy games® in the Prem, but they’d have expected at least 4-6 points from these. Perhaps they are suffering a hangover from their FA Cup final disaster v Citeh in May? Whatever. Who cares? Hopefully, it’s a good time to be playing them.
Watford possess some really good, technically gifted players and I don’t expect them to be in the bottom three for long. In particular, I’m a real fan of both French midfielder Abdoulaye Doucouré and Catalonian forward/winger Gerard Deulofeu. The latter, in particular seems to make them tick. My pal Langy and I have a long list of obvious signings Newcastle should’ve at least tried to make happen over the years. The already Premiership blooded Deulofeu was a definite later addition. He’ll need to be watched.
What of the Mighty Magpies? Where to start?
Having been mainly toilet in our two openers, we incredibly went down to Spurs and came home with the points. My 0-4 prediction now looks about as silly as the decision to flog my match ticket to a London based Mag pal. I do, however take comfort in the fact that every other Black & Whiter I spoke to pre-Sunday had similarly erroneous score lines in mind.
At the time, I also pointed out that I didn’t understand why Bruce would immediately tinker so much with a system most of the current crop of players know and understand. Well, he definitely went back to basics in North London. It honestly could’ve been Rafa in the dugout.
We were rigidly organised, belligerent (or should that be Dummetterent) and Almiron/Joelinton up top a constant threat. If Man City or Liverpool had pulled Spurs apart with 17 passes including a sublime assist and class finish MOTD would’ve been all over it. As it was only Newcastle, they actually managed to show us about a third of the whole move. Same shit, different season eh?
So having done it away versus a top team can Bruce overcome a struggling one at home? My answer is, ‘who knows?’ If he sticks with the ‘Rafa’ plan I could see us nicking it 1-0. Will he, though? I think not. I believe he’ll want us to be more on the front foot which will probably make for more entertaining viewing, but will leave us a bit exposed at the back.
I’m therefore going to plump for a fence sitting, score draw. 1-1 or 2-2 seem likely to me. It’d be nice to see Miggy notch an’ all. With an international yawn break and Jürgen’s kilowatt smile waiting for us at Anfield, we really do need something out of this one.
Over to you, Steve…
– Nick Clark