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Watford (h)
#1
A few injuries and doubtfuls for Saturday:

Matt Ritchie (2 months) and Allan Saint-Maximin (5 weeks) join Andy Carroll, Dwight Gayle, DeAndre Yedlin, and Florian Lejeune as definitely out for the Watford match. 

There are three other players who are doubts for Saturday. Emil Krafth, Miguel Almiron, and Jetro Willems

On the good news front - Joelinton looks like he'll be fit as well as Jamaal Lascelles

Mick
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#2
Watford is in poor form at the moment and hopefully we can take advantage of that. Picking up another 3 points would be huge for us.
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#3
Draw. Should have won that game. Bizarre game quite honestly
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#4
Not too bad a performance, but we were clearly the better side and but for some poor decision making and wayward passing, could have won it easily.  Joelinton still doesn't convince me, but showed some good strength and link-up play in the last 15 minutes or so; the rest of the time he was a bit lacklustre.  Willems put in a very good shift and Krafth was competent, if unspectacular.  There is a very good player indeed in Sean Longstaff but his naivité was very apparent today.  Atsu, on the whole was very good and my MOTM.  Almiron will never score in a Newcastle shirt; it's the law; but - in spells - was excellent.  If Almiron and Atsu can forge a good understanding then I think they will become a potent force along with whoever plays as the striker.

Make no mistake, Watford were woeful and we'll not get as easy a ride again this season, so not taking all 3 points is a bit of a big deal, 'though there was some good attacking play from us today.  I worry that at the moment we seem unable to attack convincingly and defend convincingly at the same time - we rode our luck on occasion today and better opponents would have beaten us.  But it was what it was, the players seemed committed (or at least 90% committed), and there is still a smattering of craft about the team, so not an entirely negative result.
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#5
Pretty even match, could have gone either way really as both sides had chances to score.

A point is a canny result after 3 from Spurs.

If we'd lost at Spurs it wouldn't feel that way!

Mick
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#6
Recorded the highlights on Sky overnight and just watched.

There were some good individual performances there yesterday - and the commitment, togetherness and organisation of the team cannot be questioned on that performance I reckon.

All the new lads put in an honest shift and have definitely added something to the team and that's got to be good.

Almiron, though, I can't fault his effort and hard running but he continues to just run around and struggles to see a pass when it's there, and just seems incapable of testing the keeper when presented with opportunities. Trying Muto in the No10 position would be a good move I reckon on the evidence of what we saw when he came on.

I'm a growing fan of Joelinton - who played the strong front man very well, won the ball a lot and laid off some intelligent passes.

If we keep this standard of performance going, I think we'll be allright this season.

Mick
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#7
I thought we were abysmal in the first half and then much better in the second. First half was just the usual hopeless long balls forward, no pattern of play, no one moving off the ball. Then in the second half we started to get Longstaff on the ball, we started to get the ball out to Willems and Joelinton seemed to drop a little deeper and provided some decent linkup play at times. Let's be real though, that was a Watford team set to make all the wrong records if they had lost that game, that is not a game where we should have been happy with a point from, especially with what's to come in our next game.

There are more positive signs from the early season games, but the problem with 1st half performances like the one on Saturday, is that we won't be playing a Watford side low on confidence each week. I worry for us in the final 3rd, Almiron is just a headless chicken who runs around a lot, and although he does work hard, he doesn't look like he knows how to score a goal. He is now 15 games without a goal or an assist, and that's just not good enough. The problem before Almiron was that Perez would go missing for a lot of the season in that same position, and it was only the 2nd half of each season when Perez turned up, that has helped stay up the last 2 years. I fear if Almiron doesn't do the same and/or Joelinton picks up an injury, we are really going to struggle this year.

I'd honestly be tempted to take Almiron out of the firing line, give him a couple of games on the bench and throw Muto in as a second striker for Joelinton. I feel sorry for Muto as I don't think he has had a fair crack of the whip yet. He's a player who has shown he can score, and he is also a player who doesn't shy away from putting a shift in. Bruce doesn't have the balls to drop Almiron though, and I fear we are going to suffer more of his head down, no end product approach, long before he comes out of the other side (IF he comes out of the other side).

Our problems under Benitez were the games where the onus was on us to take the game to the opposition, so there is no real change there. The difference will be whether or not we can do a Spurs type performance in our away games to dig out the points to keep us up. A few weeks a go I would have said we were nailed on to finish bottom, the last one and a half performances have shown that maybe, just maybe, there is a team in there that can stay up...

... just wake me up after the Liverpool game!
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#8
I must admit it has crossed my mind to rest Almiron and give Muto a chance that he never really got under Rafa. 

Muto looks a competent player and he would be more of a threat in the box than Almiron currently is.

He could definitely make runs off Joelinton.

Even if Bruce didn't have the balls to drop Almiron he could move him out wide to take the pressure off him a bit as i think he's becoming more anxious the longer he goes without scoring.
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