Newcastle United supporters have been making a lot of noise in the Transfer Tavern this week after seeing their side narrowly beat Crystal Palace at St James’ Park on Saturday, a result which moved them up to seventh in the Premier League table.
Rafa Benitez’s men went into their clash with the Eagles having drawn their previous two league games against Liverpool and Southampton, but they would have viewed the visit of the division’s bottom side as a perfect opportunity to get back to winning ways. And so it proved as the Magpies secured a 1-0 win thanks to Mikel Merino’s late header from a teasing Matt Ritchie corner, in turn moving the North East giants up to seventh in the table, and to within two points of the Premier League’s top four.
Thus, several of our resident Newcastle fans have been singing the praises of their team in the Tavern this week, but they are fully aware that they will need to be at their best again on Monday night if they are to get the three points from their trip to Burnley.
Sean Dyche’s men have made a fine start to the season with three wins and just two defeats from their opening nine games, and they find themselves just a place and a point below Benitez’s side in the division ahead of the weekend’s fixtures.
As such, you sense that it’s going to be a tight encounter and a moment of quality may prove to be the difference, so Newcastle will likely be looking at influential winger Ritchie to provide that spark which could inspire them to victory in Lancashire.
Ultimately, the Scotland international has made a fine start to the campaign with four assists in nine Premier League starts, which means that he has laid on 67% of recorded assists for the Magpies this term (4/6).
Thus, it’s pretty evident that he is their go-to man, they attack down his side more (38%) than down Christian Atsu’s side (35%), and with a club-high 14 chances created this term, he is continuing to get into good areas and create opportunities for his teammates.
And with an average of two shots per game, only Joselu (2.8) averages more, the 28-year-old isn’t afraid to go for goal as well.
This all suggests that Ritchie will again be integral to Newcastle’s chances on Saturday, and although Burnley are strong defensively and very solid in the air, playing at home will place the emphasis on them to be more expansive and take the game to Newcastle.
And Ritchie may be able to exploit that with first time balls into the channels, as well as getting in behind the Clarets backline, which is one that isn’t particularly comfortable defending against directness and pace.
The hosts will also have to be wary to give away silly free-kicks in and around their own box, because the winger’s quality is undoubted and has been highlighted throughout this season – it was he who delivered the corner for Merino’s header on Saturday.
No matter how good Burnley are at defending aerially, Ritchie has been good enough and consistent enough this season to continuously cause defences problems, be it by mixing it up or regularly putting the ball in the right areas.
The same will surely happen on Monday.
Once again, the £8.1 million-rated ace (as per Transfermarkt) will be crucial for the Magpies on Monday night, and could even be the difference between the two sides at Turf Moor.
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