Newcastle put in one of their worst performances of the season as Watford convincingly beat them 3-0 with a fantastic display of counter-attacking football.
Watford captain Troy Deeney sat out the last game of his three match suspension, as did Newcastle's Issac Hayden who received his fifth booking against Manchester United.
Mikel Merino returned from a back injury and was expected to replace Hayden but could only make the Newcastle bench, with Jacob Murphy keeping his place in the starting eleven after impressing at Old Trafford.
It took eleven minutes for the first big chance of the game - Murphy, who was Newcastle's best player, played it to Matt Ritchie on the right-hand side of the penalty area but his curled shot could only find the side netting.
Watford then replied with an electric counter-attack which resulted in Rob Elliot having to turn Richarlison's shot round the his left hand post with a fantastic save.
The Hornets started to grow into the game and it wasn't long until they opened the scoring after some awful Newcastle defending - Marvin Zeegelaar was given far too much time down the left to pick out a low driven cross for the unmarked Will Hughes to sweep home from the penalty spot.
Newcastle did not learn from their mistakes and just two minutes later, Zeegelaar was given the freedom of St James Park to pick out Abdoulaye Doucoure but the Frenchman could only flick wide from six yards out.
The Magpies responded by creating chances of their own - the best of which came when Joselu rolled the ball across Heurelho Gomes' goal in the 36th minute; the final ball just seemed to be lacking for the Toon.
However, Newcastle were fishing the ball out of their own net once again on the stroke of half-time and it came down Watford's left once again - that man Zeegelaar providing a dangerous cross that DeAndre Yedlin could only turn past his own keeper.
A dire first half from Newcastle would have been met with stern words from their manager Rafa Benitez in the changing rooms, but there didn't seem to be any improvement from his players as Andre Gray spurned a glorious chance and then a few minutes later saw a shot blocked by Yedlin.
Gray finally got his goal just after the hour mark when Richarlison did magnificently do keep the ball in play down the left hand side and superbly crossed for the striker too tap in from close range.
Rafa's persistence with the struggling Spaniard Joselu was further questioned in the 66th minute when Murphy played him through beautifully but instead of taking a touch and picking his spot, he decided to slide and fling a leg at it, resulting in the ball calmly rolling into Gomes' hands.
Gray really should have had a hat-trick on the day as he found himself one on one with Elliot in the 82nd minute but his shot lacked any real conviction and trickled into the keeper's palms.
Toon fans' hopes and prayers were answered when Aleksandar Mitrovic replaced Joselu and the Serbian almost got a consolation in the 86th minute but for some heroic defending from Christian Kabasele to block the shot.
That was Newcastle's fourth loss on the trot, with Tuesday's game at manager-less West Brom now looking like a must-win - whilst Watford maintain their charge up the table despite the ongoing speculation surrounding their marvelous manager Marco Silva.