Newcastle United tasted their second successive defeat in the Premier League as they fell 3-1 to Liverpool at Anfield on Thursday night.
Eddie Howe’s side took the lead thanks to a superb strike from Jonjo Shelvey, before goals from Diogo Jota, Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold saw the Reds clinch all three points.
One man who’s certainly given the Newcastle boss some food for thought going forward, is Matt Ritchie.
The Scotland international found himself on the bench again before the game – he’s been out of the starting line-up since the clash against Arsenal – but following Jamal Lewis’ injury, was forced to come on very early in the first-half.
While having to deal with the likes of Salah and Alexander-Arnold was always going to be a thankless task, Ritchie just couldn’t get to pace with the game.
As per Sofascore, he made no tackles whatsoever and didn’t win a single duel in the time that he was on the pitch – compare that to the likes of Jacob Murphy and Joelinton who each won eight and nine respectively.
Ritchie also couldn’t get going the other way either, failing to attempt a single cross and actually having fewer touches than even goalkeeper Martin Dubravka too – a sign of just how much he was penned back.
And, Ritchie’s situation is made all the more pressing by the news that Lewis’ injury is said to be a “bad” one according to Howe.
Speaking in his post-match press conference, the Newcastle boss added: “It’s a hamstring injury, which is a surprise with Jamal because he’s obviously so athletic.
“He’s been excellent in terms of his athletic work for us so far, so for that to happen so early in the game, I was surprised.”
With Paul Dummett still not fully fit, and Lewis seemingly set for an extended period out on the side-lines, it appears Newcastle have no choice but to stick with Ritchie in that left-back role for the time being.
It’s another major headache for Howe and one that he would have been desperate to avoid, no doubt hoping to focus his attentions elsewhere.
But, having Lewis and Dummett out, and Ritchie having to once again play in an unfamiliar role, a new left-back may be something for the Magpies boss to consider.
Ritchie’s performance certainly didn’t show anything like the quality that would suggest he can be a short-term answer, let alone a longer-term one.
Meanwhile, Newcastle have suffered a major injury blow…