Matt Ritchie calls for Newcastle consistency
Matt Ritchie is confident consistency will get Newcastle over the Premier League finishing line as they attempt to secure their top-flight status for another season.
Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Burnley at St James’ Park ended the Magpies’ two-game losing streak but left them without a goal in six hours of league football.
That, coupled with big wins for Norwich, West Ham and Watford over the weekend, reduced their cushion to the bottom three to just five points, piling on the pressure for the remaining 10 fixtures of the campaign.
However, Ritchie said: “The Premier League is tough. We know that you are going to go on good runs, bad runs and it’s about staying consistent, performing consistently well.
“Hopefully we can do that in the run-in and continue to perform well, and with that will be points.”
Steve Bruce’s men had been toothless in defeat at both Arsenal and Crystal Palace, prompting the head coach to take a radical approach against the Clarets.
Having played most of the season with three central defenders, he went to a back four and played misfiring £40million striker Joelinton on the left side of a three behind frontman Dwight Gayle, a ploy which yielded more chances – they mustered 21 attempts in total – but ultimately no goals.
Ritchie said: “We certainly created more chances, we looked more of a threat than over the last few weeks. The manager wanted to be more aggressive, play on the front foot a little bit more and that system suits that.
“It was certainly a good performance, positives to take from it and a clean sheet. Obviously, we go into those games, especially at home, and want to get three points.
“But in this league if you can’t get three, you have to make sure that you’re solid and you take a point, and we did that.”
Burnley boss Sean Dyche was delighted with a fourth clean sheet in five league games and an 11th of the campaign but admitted his team had not hit their recent heights on Tyneside.
Dyche said: “Particularly away from home, you often have to surrender some of the areas of the pitch to make sure that you don’t give anything away, and it makes that balance between attacking and defending more precarious.
“But generally we have found that very well this season, and today we just couldn’t. The defensive side was fine – in fact, better than fine, particularly with a lot of set-pieces coming in, and I thought we dealt with that very well.
“We had a couple of break-away moments, Charlie Taylor a couple of times excellent one-v-one, so that side of things was very good.
“But with the ball, we were nowhere near where we have been lately.”