Matt Ritchie has hailed Miguel Almiron for his performance in Newcastle United’s 1-0 defeat to Arsenal at St James’ Park on Sunday.
Steve Bruce failed to pick up any points in his first competitive match in charge of the Magpies but there were some encouraging signs about the attacking partnership between Almiron and summer signing Joelinton, especially in the first half.
Although Newcastle’s attack had limited chances after the break, Ritchie was full of praise for Almiron and claimed that the Paraguay international was a constant threat to Arsenal throughout the 90 minutes.
“I thought Miguel and Joe were a real handful. Miggy was fantastic throughout the whole game really. I’m sure that will excite everyone involved in the whole club so there are certainly positives to take,” Ritchie told NUFCTV, as quoted by the Chronicle.
“I think defensively we were very solid, very sound, and it’s just disappointing that the goal came from a bit of sloppy play from us rather than an outstanding play from Arsenal.
“So, yeah, disappointing but it’s early days and we’re going to build on hopefully what we’ve done today and don’t get too down because there’s another one on Saturday and we’re looking forward to that and hopefully a good performance and three points.”
Almiron certainly looked up for it in the first half but the former Atlanta United attacker was certainly a lot quieter after half-time. He showed some encouraging signs with his quick feet, close control and ability to drive the Magpies attack forward, although he was correctly booked for a pathetic attempt of a dive to try and win a penalty. According to stats by WhoScored, Almiron only completed two dribbles in the match, was dispossessed twice and only completed 19 passes. Arsenal are a good team but Unai Emery’s team selection on Sunday should really have given Newcastle and their attacking players a lot more encouragement to push forward and put them under pressure. While Almiron did that on a few occasions in the opening 45 minutes, he needs to make sure that he is keeping at that level through the entire game. Ritchie’s hardly going to hit out at his team-mates in this way, but Almiron was not as impressive as he suggested.