Ritchie com­pletes come­back win for Toon against frag­ile Gun­ners

Swazi Observer - - WORLD SPORT -

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.

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