With or without his ‘magic hat’, Matt Ritchie is clearly Newcastle’s best performer so far this season.

Ability to beat his man, score goals, create chances AND track back, it is obvious why he has proved so popular with supporters.

Maybe it is easy to say after winning seven of the next eight games but Matt Ritchie thinks that losing the first two games was ‘a little kick up the bum’ that the players/club needed.

The winger says that everybody has to accept that Newcastle are not ‘going to win every game’.

However, it was always going to be the case that Newcastle fans would compare and contrast this campaign with the only other second tier season for United in the past 20+ years.

In 2009/10, Newcastle didn’t lose a single match at home and only lost four in total all season, so to that backdrop, losing two home games already and three altogether does suggest that it won’t prove quite as easy as that relative stroll to promotion the last time.

Villa’s Captain has claimed that his club have the best squad in the league ahead of today’s game, saying it is just a question of time before they prove that. To an extent Ritchie agrees, in terms of saying that today’s opponents are going to improve and show they are a ‘good side’.

With seven wins in the last eight against Villa’s one win in nine this season, we all hope that Matt Ritchie helps keep those formlines continuing today.

Matt Ritchie talking to NUFC TV:

“Come on, that’s seven games out of eight that we’ve won!

 “Don’t get me wrong, we need to keep our feet on the floor and we need to keep striving to win games, get better and improve, but we’re not going to win every game in this league.

“There’s going to be games like last Saturday (v Wolves) when we do slip up. At the start of the season, when we lost two on the bounce and everyone was panicking a little bit, I think it could have been a blessing.

“Sometimes it’s a little kick up the bum, gives everyone that little shake-up that they need and I think (Cup win v Wolves) showed that.

“We were compact, we worked hard from the front and hopefully that can get the bit back between our teeth. We’ve got a very tough game on Saturday because Villa are a good side. I know they’re not flying yet but they’ve got a good squad and some very good, talented players.

“I’m sure they’ll be similar to us; in the first couple of games, we didn’t quite click but now everyone’s on the same page and I think Villa will be the same so they have to respected. I’m really looking forward to the game because it’ll be a good one.

“It’s a game that all the players will look forward to, all the fans will look forward to and as I say, they’re a good side. I’m sure that come the end of the season, they’ll be up there fighting for promotion so it’s a big game.”

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