Ritchie completes comeback win for Toon against fragile Gunners
NEWCASTLE - As stoppage-time was played out in frantic fashion, one manager orchestrated his team from the touchline, the other was nowhere to be seen.
Rafa Benitez and Arsene Wenger, one leading his side to four straight victories, one slipping into the shadows after five consecutive away defeats, Arsenal’s worst run on the road since 1984.
And this was classic Arsenal, albeit not so classic. They saw plenty of the ball, had a host of chances but, ultimately, were just too flaky to see home a victory which should have been theirs.
That is not to take anything away from Benitez’s Newcastle, who are now 13 points from danger as their remarkable form in 2018 shows no sign of letting up. To think they entered the bottom three after defeat in the reverse fixture in December.
Their match-winner was Matt Ritchie after Ayoze Perez had cancelled Alexandre Lacazette’s opener. That goal arrived on 14 minutes. It was always going to be the case that Aubameyang and Lacazette would inflict some sort of pain on Newcastle, the club who tried to sign the pair at various junctures during the reign of former chief scout Graham Carr. The hierarchy baulked at the prices being quoted back then, even if they were a fraction of the combined £105million it cost Arsenal to take them to North London.
And they combined clinically here, Aubameyang outwitting DeAndre Yedlin on the left and sweeping to the far post for a full-stretch Lacazette to hook home. The passing of the 26th minute without further score was a significant milestone, for by that point in the famous 4-4 draw of 2011 the visitors were 4-0 up.
By the half hour Newcastle were level. Jonjo Shelvey had already served a warning notice of his ability to drop passes from deep in behind Arsenal’s backline.
GOAL: Matt Ritchie (pictured) slots past Petr Cech in the 68th minute to complete a memorable 2-1 comeback win over Arsenal.