Ritchie expecting Magpies’ duo to excite

Newcastle United
Newcastle new boy Joelinton has praised Steve Bruce and says the Magpies boss has already made a big impression on him.

Matt Ritchie has seen enough from big money signings Joelinton and Miguel Almiron to hope Newcastle can make some progress this season.

The Magpies slipped to a 1-0 defeat to Arsenal at St James’ Park at the weekend as new head coach Steve Bruce got off to a losing start on a day when thousands of fans registered their displeasure with owner Mike Ashley by staying away.

However, while Ritchie bemoaned the costly bit of “sloppy play” which led to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s 58th-minute goal for the Gunners, he hit back at the pessimistic claims that Newcastle are set for a season of scrapping to avoid relegation.

Indeed, the 29-year-old firmly believes that the club-record £40million signing Joelinton and £21m January arrival Almiron will prove to be the difference between the Magpies and the other teams expected to be battling it out in the lower reaches of the Premier League.

Speaking about the attack in the Arsenal game, Ritchie said: “The quality wasn’t quite there in the final third – speaking for myself, really, I feel I should have had a shot on one and there was one cross that I felt I should have done better with personally.

“We got into some good areas, created some in the final third – I thought Miguel and Joe were a real handful. Miggy was fantastic throughout the whole game and I’m sure that will excite everyone involved with the club, so there are certainly positives to take.”

Bruce needed to rebuild the forward line in the summer after last season’s leading goalscorers Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez followed manager Rafael Benitez out of the door to pastures new.

In addition to Brazilian forward Joelinton arriving from German Bundesliga side Hoffenheim, former striker Andy Carroll returned to his hometown club on a free transfer and winger Allan Saint-Maximin joined from Nice.

While Ritchie was primarily discussing Newcastle’s forward line, the Scotland international also feels the backline deserved some praise for their performance, despite being breached.

He added: “Defensively we were very solid, very sound, and it’s just disappointing that the goal came from a little bit of sloppy play from us rather than outstanding play from Arsenal.”

Meanwhile, despite drawing a blank against Arsenal, the new-look attack will be hoping to click in this Saturday’s game against Norwich City at Carrow Road.