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Jan 9, 2016 at 3pm UK at Vicarage Road
NewcastleNewcastle United
Deeney (44')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Preview: Watford vs. Newcastle United

Sports Mole provides the lowdown ahead of the all-Premier League FA Cup third-round tie between Watford and Newcastle United.

Two teams enduring a tough time in the Premier League of late meet at Vicarage Road in the FA Cup tomorrow as Watford host Newcastle United.

Despite their recent slide, Watford have impressed in their first season back in the top flight and might fancy a cup run, while Newcastle's main focus is escaping the drop in the next four months.


Odion Ighalo of Watford celebrates scoring his team's first goal with his team mates during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Watford at St James' Park on September 19, 2015 in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom.© Getty Images

No win in three since Christmas and two straight defeats mean that Watford come into this match not exactly high on confidence.

However, all three matches were against so-called big boys, with a 2-2 draw at Chelsea followed by crushing late defeats at home - both by a 2-1 scoreline - against Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City.

Despite the defeats, Watford have now scored in their last 11 matches and that is largely down to the exploits of captain Troy Deeney and strike partner Odion Ighalo.

Deeney was recently linked with a move to Arsenal, but the player and Gunners boss Arsene Wenger dismissed the speculation earlier today.

Watford fans would not have been happy to see top-scorer Ighalo seemingly issuing a come-and-get-me plea to Manchester United by saying that it was his dream to play at Old Trafford like childhood heroes Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole, but a sale this month is still unlikely.

The Hornets, who have never won the FA Cup, were beaten 3-0 at Chelsea in last year's third round and their best run in recent times was nine years ago when they got to the semi-finals before losing to Manchester United.

Recent form: WWWDLL


Daryl Janmaat of Newcastle United celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Watford at St James' Park on September 19, 2015 in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom.© Getty Images

Watford are still ninth with 29 points and how Newcastle would like to be part of that impressive top-half cluster with the likes of West Ham United, Crystal Palace and Stoke City.

Steve McClaren's side have lost three in a row - the longest losing streak in the Premier League - and lie in the bottom three after 20 games of the season.

All three defeats have been by a 1-0 scoreline, last time going down at Arsenal, and the Magpies have managed just one goal in four games since impressive back-to-back wins over Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at the start of December.

Goals have been a problem all season long and a new striker seems to be McClaren's number one priority this month in the transfer window, with French duo Loic Remy and Alexandre Lacazette both linked with January moves.

Newcastle, six-time winners of the competition, have a poor recent FA Cup record, losing at the first hurdle the last four years and losing six of their last seven third-round contests.

Recent form: WWDLLL

Team News

Obbi Oulare of Club Brugge KV during UEFA Europa League group B match between HJK Helsinki and Club Brugge KV at the Sonera Stadium on October 2, 2014© Getty Images

It seems unlikely that both Deeney and Ighalo will start and that could mean a debut for summer signing Obbi Oulare, who has appeared on the bench five times in the Premier League for the Hornets.

Former Roma striker Victor Ibarbo could also start after making three substitute appearances in the Premier League, while Jose Holebas could again play at left-back with Nathan Ake still suspended.

Watford are almost injury-free, but the same cannot be said of Newcastle.

McClaren has several key players out injured and he might not be able to rotate his squad as much as he would like.

Papiss Cisse is not fit to play, but he could return soon after he was initially thought last week to be out of action for three months with a groin problem.

Rolando Aarons and Emmanuel Riviere are also back in contention, but Jack Colback is likely to miss out with a hamstring injury.

Watford possible starting lineup:
Arlauskis; Anya, Prodl, Cathcart, Holebas; Abdi, Guedioura, Behrami, Jurado; Deeney, Ibarbo

Newcastle possible starting lineup:
Darlow; Janmaat, Lascelles, Mbemba, Dummett; Thauvin, De Jong, Tiote, Gouffran; Toney, Mitrovic

Head To Head

Ighalo scored twice inside the opening half-hour at St James' Park in September as Watford won 2-1 in the first Premier League meeting for eight years between the two. The pair meet again in two weeks' time for the reverse.

The last time these two met in the FA Cup was in 1989 when Watford came through 1-0 at the fourth time of asking in the third replay after three straight draws (0-0, 2-2, 0-0).

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We say: Watford 3-1 Newcastle

With a 12-point buffer to Newcastle in the drop zone, it is hard to imagine Watford getting sucked into a relegation battle in the second half of the season unless perhaps some key players are poached this month. Therefore a cup run is a very realistic aim for the Hornets and they might just be more up for it than the Magpies.

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Odion Ighalo celebrates scoring Watford's second against Liverpool on December 20, 2015
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Friday's key events

· Great Britain's women aim to secure their place on the podium as they face India in the bronze medal match (2.30am)
· Netherlands - silver medallists five years ago - and Argentina battle for the gold medal in the women's final (11am)

· The women's gold medal will be decided as Australia and USA go head to head (3.30am)

· Lauren Price will be looking to add to Team GB's success in the ring when she takes on Nouchka Fontijn of Netherlands in the women's middleweight semi-final (6am)

· Tom Daley already has one Olympic gold to his name in Tokyo, and he begins his bid for second in the men's 10m platform. Teammate Noah Williams is also involved in the preliminary round (7am)

· Jason Kenny's reign as sprint king may be over, but Jack Carlin looked strong in his bid to succeed his compatriot. He takes on Harrie Lavreysen in his sprint semi-final (8.10am), with the final taking place later in the day (10.35am)
· The women's madison makes its Olympic debut at the velodrome as Team GB duo Katie Archibald and Laura Kenny look to add another medal to their collections (9.15am)

· Hosts Japan will look to get themselves on the podium as they face Mexico in the men's bronze medal match (10am)
· The women's champions will be crowned as both Sweden and Canada aim to win Olympic gold for the very first time (1pm)

· The men's 5000m final includes Great Britain's Andrew Butchart, but most eyes will be on Ugandan world record holder Joshua Cheptegei (1pm)
· Team GB's Jodie Williams will hope to get on the podium in the women's 400m final, but defending champ Shaunae Miller-Uibo is favourite for gold while Stephenie Ann McPherson should challenge and Allyson Felix is bidding to become the most decorated female track and field athlete of all time (1.35pm)
· Netherlands' Sifan Hassan takes on leg two of her ambitious attempt at a Tokyo treble in a women's 1500m final which also includes Great Britain's Laura Muir and Faith Kipyegon of Kenya (1.50pm)
· A star-studded women's 4x100m relay final will see a Team GB quartet including Dina Asher-Smith look to upset defending champions USA and favourites Jamaica, who boast Elaine Thompson-Herah as she goes for her third gold of the Games (2.30pm)
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> Today's schedule in full
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