REUTERS: Relegation-threatened Watford will approach Saturday’s (Jul 11) game like a “cup final” as they fight for Premier League survival with four rounds of fixtures to be played, Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce said on Friday.
Watford, 17th, are three points above the relegation zone after Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Norwich City and Nigel Pearson’s side play West Ham United, Manchester City and Arsenal in their remaining games.
“Watford will be looking at this as their cup final. They’ll be thinking, ‘We have a chance today’,” Bruce told reporters in a virtual news conference. “We’ve got to guard against that.
“When you look at what Watford have got on paper then you wonder why it’s been a struggle but that’s the Premier League. Nigel has done a wonderful job in turning them around.”
Newcastle suffered a heavy 5-0 defeat by second-placed Manchester City on Wednesday but Bruce said he is optimistic about an improved performance at Vicarage Road.
“The mark of a good team and the honesty of your team is how you respond to a beating,” he added. “We’ve had a couple of awful results this season and we’ve responded in the right way.
“I expect and demand a better performance tomorrow and I’m confident the players will do that.”
Newcastle are also waiting on a late fitness update on captain Jamaal Lascelles, winger Allan Saint-Maximin and midfielder Miguel Almiron who are out with ankle, hamstring and muscle injuries respectively.
“We’ll know a little bit more when we train this afternoon but we hope Almiron, Saint-Maximin and Lascelles will be OK,” Bruce said.
“That will give us a hand. The other night we were badly beaten but we had too many of our big players unavailable.”