Eddie Howe’s first game in the dugout in charge of Newcastle United ended with a disappointing 2-0 defeat at Arsenal, keeping his side at the bottom of the Premier League table.
Goals from Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli secured the three points for Mikel Arteta’s side in a tough lunchtime fixture for the Toon.
One player in a Newcastle shirt who certainly let Howe down on the day with his performance was Matt Ritchie.
Deployed as a left-back on this occasion, the 32-year-old only played 67 minutes before being replaced by Miguel Almiron as Howe looked to get something from the game.
In those 67 minutes, Ritchie had significantly fewer touches of the ball (17) than Toon goalkeeper Martin Dubravka (50), whilst completing just six of his nine passes, along with two failed cross attempts and two failed long ball passes.
Ritchie failed to have an impact off the ball either by losing 100% of his five duels, getting dribbled past on three occasions and picking up a yellow card in the process.
This performance ultimately earned the 32-year-old, who is currently earning £45k-per-week according to Spotrac, a poor overall match rating of 5.7/10 from SofaScore, making him the lowest-rated Toon player on the day.
With Newcastle now having conceded 29 goals in 13 league games, it’s safe to say that Howe has a big challenge on his hands to improve the defence and keep the club in the Premier League.
Looking at his performance today, Ritchie should be worried about his place in the team if he can’t improve and help them to get some much-needed points on the board.
However, given his impressive performance against Brentford last weekend where he grabbed an assist, perhaps this was just a bad day at the office for Ritchie against a tough opponent who are now 17 points ahead of the Magpies.
With Newcastle set to take on fellow strugglers Norwich City in midweek, this will undoubtedly be a huge game for the Tynesiders to finally get a win under their belts.
It will also be interesting to see whether or not Howe sticks with Ritchie in the starting XI given the dramatic difference in performance level he has produced in his two previous league appearances.