Liam Kennedy’s Newcastle United XI for Watford - with a system switch & TWO key changes

Newcastle United take on Watford at Vicarage Road looking to record their first win of the season at the sixth attempt.

Five Premier League games and a Carabao Cup tie, too. Yet still, Newcastle United await their first win of the 2021/22 campaign.

Will they get it at Watford’s Vicarage Road this afternoon?

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Well, our Newcastle United writer Liam Kennedy takes a look at the team he thinks has the best chance of securing all three points - and it sees the Magpies change system, to 4-2-3-1, and personnel.

GOALKEEPER: Karl Darlow

Karl Darlow of Newcastle Uited is seen during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Leeds United at St. James Park on September 17, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

After a little bit of a nervy start Darlow grew into the Leeds United game, sparked into life with a spectacular second half save to prevent a Jamaal Lascelles own goal. Even taking all that into consideration, he is likely to be the only option bar Mark Gillespie, who is, as yet, untried at Premier League level.

RIGHT-BACK: Javier Manquillo

In a four, probably only Emil Krafth rivals him for a slot on the right. And Manquillo has been one of the brighter sparks from the last few weeks, anyway.

LEFT-BACK: Matt Ritchie

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce on the touchline during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Leeds United at St. James Park on September 17, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

Not his natural position and defending isn’t always his thing, but looks to be the best bet to fill in at left-back in the four. Jamal Lewis may be better suited, but it’s hard to find a reason to drop influential, chance-creator Ritchie.

CENTRE-BACK: Federico Fernandez

The Argentine is arguably the best central defender the club has on its books - and for that reason should really be in any side that is selected by Steve Bruce. Inexplicably, he hasn’t been of late. He replaces injured Jamaal Lascelles.

CENTRE-BACK: Ciaran Clark

I like Fabian Schar better as a defender but would likely stick with Clark, as to not change too much in the backline ahead of what is already looking like a must-win game for the Magpies.

CENTRE-MIDFIELD: Isaac Hayden

He’s a midfielder by trade and did well in the role against Leeds, despite tiring badly in the second period. With numbers limited he slots in without fail.

CENTRE-MIDFIELD: Sean Longstaff

Sean Longstaff of Newcastle United reacts during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Leeds United at St. James Park on September 17, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

The United midfielder has been one of the positives of the recent poor run, with his versatility really proving invaluable. Has slotted in deeper and looked at his confident best in the more advanced No.10 role last time out. Will be needed to fill Joe Willock’s boots this time out.

ATTACKING MIDFIELDER: Miguel Almiron

This is exactly where he wants to play, where suits him best - and now is the time for Almiron, largely disappointing so far this season, to deliver in the role.

RIGHT SIDE: Ryan Fraser

Ryan Fraser of Newcastle United looks on during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and West Ham United at St. James Park on August 15, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

A tough call this one. It was, for me, a straight shoot-out between Scot Fraser and Jacob Murphy for the right side role. But Fraser, at some point, does need a run of games to prove a) his fitness, and b) he’s can even contribute.

LEFT SIDE: Joelinton

He is a Marmite kind of player, who a lot of fans have already written off. I’m not one of those, nor am I convinced he will ever be anything more than he is at the moment - a physical, trier up top. His physicality and tireless drive up to pushed United on against the Whites, shame about the finishing.

STRIKER: Allan Saint-Maximin

Allan Saint-Maximin of Newcastle United celebrates after scoring their team’s first goal during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Leeds United at St. James Park on September 17, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

He’s not a striker, yes, but looked every bit at home there last weekend. Can drift left, right, deep and into pockets to cause mayhem. Excellent so far this season. Long may it continue.