Matt Ritchie says that he needs to ‘score more goals and create more chances’ in the Premier League this season.
The winger already has four assists from the opening 10 matches but it has been set-pieces, rather than open play, where he has had his main influence.
The match winning goals against Swansea, Stoke, and Crystal Palace, all came from Matt Ritchie corners.
To date he hasn’t scored any himself but hopes that will soon change.
The 2014/15 season was the big breakthrough one for Ritchie, an incredible 15 goals and 17 assists helping Bournemouth get promotion to the Premier League.
His influence last (2016/17) season was almost as great, with 12 goals and 7 assists in Newcastle’s promotion campaign.
Doubts though did remain as to whether he could have the same influence in the top tier after his one Premier League season for Bournemouth.
To get 4 goals and 6 assists in 2015/16 wasn’t a disaster but a bit of a comedown from what he has achieved in those last two Championship seasons.
With Newcastle playing, by necessity, a more defensive formation, it will always be difficult to score and create a great number of goals, especially with NUFC’s lack of quality up front.
However, along with Jonjo Shelvey and Mikel Merino, Matt Ritchie does have the quality to make a difference.
Ahead of Saturday, Matt Ritchie has been thinking back to his one and only Bournemouth game at St James Park, when he says the visitors ‘really made it difficult for Newcastle that day’.
We have him to thank in part for at last getting rid of Steve McClaren, that 3-1 home defeat in March 2016 proved to be the clueless idiot’s last stand, the masterstroke of bringing in Emmanuel Riviere up front, not quite paying off.
Bournemouth took the three points and then McClaren was sacked, leading us to Rafa Benitez and the 14 points we see today so far, helped in large part to his well drilled defence AND just as importantly, the professionalism and creativity he has brought to Newcastle’s corners/set-pieces.
Hopefully Matt Ritchie will experience another win on Saturday at St James Park but this time in a black and white shirt.
“I’m working hard for the team but I think I need to score more goals and create more chances.
“I need to try and build on my confidence.”
“I’m looking forward to facing Bournemouth but it will be a strange feeling playing against some friends and people that I spent probably the best years of my life with.
“We had some fantastic achievements with that group of players and the manager and the staff – I had a brilliant time there.
“It’ll be strange to now be up against them but I’m a Newcastle player now and I want us to collect another three points at home.
“The last time they were at St James Park I was in a Bournemouth shirt and we really made it difficult for Newcastle that day.
“This time around I’m hoping it’s the opposite and we make life difficult for them – get the win that we want.
“I’m chomping at the bit to get a goal and I was unlucky against Crystal Palace. I tried to squeeze one through the defender’s legs but just got blocked off.
“I’m happy so far with my assists but individually we all need to improve, raise the bar and get better, and the same goes for the team – we simply have to keep improving.
“I work extremely hard on them (set-pieces) and we’ve just got to keep working hard and hopefully can keep hitting good areas and it’s then down to the lads in the box to attack them.
“So far, so good, it’s been fantastic this season.
“The stats prove that set pieces are crucial, particularly in the Premier League, thankfully we have been good at them so far and it is up to us to ensure we continue that.”