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Matthew Upson touches on Matt Ritchie conundrum after ‘ridiculous goal’

1 month ago
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If Matt Ritchie doesn’t win goal of the month then I think there needs to be a forensic investigation.

Fabian Schar’s February goal of the month was absolutely well deserved but Matt Ritchie…

His last second strike to win a point was difficult on so many levels.

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The stunning volley has drawn praise from all quarters and one of those dishing out that praise is Matthew Upson.

The BBC Sport pundit declaring it a ‘ridiculous goal’ against Bournemouth.

The former defender also making the comment that Matt Ritchie ‘can play anywhere on the pitch’, which he has done this season as Rafa’s asked him to help make up for injuries and general shortage of options.

With 32 appearances the Scottish international has also played the most times for Newcastle this season.

Matthew Upson does touch on an interesting point, in terms of what exactly is Matt Ritchie’s best position.

I understand Rafa Benitez playing him further back on the pitch due to his workrate but I have often felt he should have been given more chances further up the pitch in the Premier League, especially with Newcastle’s shortage of goals.

I think he would have been worth a shot in one of the more central positions supporting the main striker, certainly before Miguel Almiron arrived.

For me, Matt Ritchie is arguably Newcastle’s most natural finisher.

When you look at the goals he does score, they are usually great hits, rarely scrappy and often long-range. In fact he is one of very few Newcastle players who even try to shoot from outside the box.

He is also a man for the big occasion, he has only scored five goals since promotion but they include the winners against Man Utd and Arsenal last season, plus Man City in January.

Interesting when you look at his goals and assists these past five seasons:

2014/15 – 15 goals and 17 assists

2015/16 – 4 goals and 6 assists

2016/17 – 12 goals and 7 assists

2017/18 – 3 goals and 5 assists

2018/19 – 2 goals and 4 assists

The two stand out years where he was directly involved in scoring or assisting 32 and 19 goals were of course both in the Championship, 2014/15 for Bournemouth and then 2016/17 with Newcastle.

I know you are up against better players in the Premier League anyway but I think the stats show that when Matt Ritchie is given more license to get up the pitch and into better creative/shooting positions, then he invariably delivers.

If Rafa Benitez stays and is backed with some better players, I think Ritchie could be a major beneficiary of that, rather than somebody who would be replaced.

Matthew Upson speaking to BBC Sport:

“If Matt Ritchie is going to score goals like that, he can play anywhere on the pitch.

“He can play at right-back and score.

“Honestly, that was a ridiculous goal.

“The ball is coming out of the sky.

“It’s almost like he has just relaxed and lashed it in a way, controlled, but it has flown into the roof of the net.”

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