Michael Owen among pundits who believe Newcastle will see off Watford

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For some time now, January was earmarked as the month which could be pivotal in Newcastle United's Premier League season.

Of course, transfers were a big part of that and the Magpies have begun the overhaul of their squad by bringing in Kieran Trippier from Atletico Madrid and Chris Wood from Burnley. However, perhaps even more important are a couple of crucial fixtures.

At the end of the month, they face 16th place Leeds United – who they hope they can pull backwards towards the relegation zone if they beat – as well as a relegation six-pointer with Watford on Saturday.

If Eddie Howe 's side beat the Hornets at the weekend they will climb above them and out of the relegation zone and pundits are backing Newcastle to get the job done.

Here's what has been said:

Mark Lawrenson – BBC Sport

The BBC 's chief score predictor spoke positively of Newcastle's new signings and said that despite their loss to Cambridge last weekend – and their struggling defence – Watford's form was so bad they could take advantage.

“Chris Wood should go straight into the Newcastle side and I can see why they bought him.

“He is not a prolific goalscorer but he is a powerful force up front, and will hold the ball up.

Speaking of picking up the three points, Lawrenson said:

“Newcastle need it, not just to improve their own situation but to keep Watford right in the relegation mix as well.

“The problem Eddie Howe's men have there is that, defensively, we know they are all over the place.

“I still think the Magpies will win, because Watford are leaking a lot of goals and losing a lot of games, but it might be a tense finish and Newcastle will need their fans as well as Wood to get them over the line.”

Michael Owen – Bet Victor

Former Newcastle striker Michael Owen is also backing the Magpies for the win here, saying that St James' Park 'will be up for this'.

Again, he focused on how poor Watford's form is in making his assessment.

“I feel sorry for Claudio Ranieri. It was a big ask coming into the club mid-way through the season and things aren’t going well. December was a disastrous month, with five defeats and zero points.

The only positive will be that a few of those came against some of the top sides. They’ve got six fixtures now which they could pick up points in and these are the sort of games they’ll be judged on.

A win for Newcastle, and that could kickstart their season. I can’t see this being emphatic, but I do think Newcastle will win this. 2-1 Newcastle.”

FiveThirtyEight

Meanwhile, FiveThirtyEight 's algorithm-based match predictor, which uses team ratings calculated by using expected goals for and against and goals scored and conceded, also makes Newcastle the favourites.

However, it isn't clear cut. As the home side, the Magpies are expected to win and given a probability of 40%. Watford's win probability is only 6% lower at 34%, whilst the draw is a 26% chance. This makes it a 60% probability that Newcastle won't win the game, according to the algorithm.

15/01

Watford (H)

Premier League

1 - 1

22/01

Leeds (A)

Premier League

0 - 1

08/02

Everton (H)

Premier League

19:45

13/02

Aston Villa (H)

Premier League

14:00

19/02

West Ham (A)

Premier League

12:30

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English Premier League

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1 23 18 3 2 41 57
2 22 14 6 2 39 48
3 24 13 8 3 30 47
4 22 11 5 6 6 38
5 23 11 4 8 10 37
6 21 11 3 7 8 36
7 20 11 3 6 2 36
8 21 10 4 7 3 34
9 22 6 12 4 0 30
10 20 7 5 8 -3 26
11 21 8 2 11 -4 26
12 22 5 10 7 -8 25
13 22 5 9 8 -3 24
14 23 6 5 12 -12 23
15 21 5 7 9 -16 22
16 20 5 4 11 -11 19
17 22 4 4 14 -32 16
18 21 2 9 10 -22 15
19 20 4 2 14 -17 14
20 18 1 9 8 -11 12