The Magpies were made to pay for one error by the Gunners.

Newcastle United slipped to a 1-0 defeat to Arsenal at St James’ Park on Sunday as new head coach Steve Bruce got off to a losing start on a day when thousands of fans registered their displeasure with owner Mike Ashley by staying away.

There were encouraging signs in the first half, during which Jonjo Shelvey hit the post and Brazilian newcomer Joelinton came close to opening his account, but they wilted in the wake of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s 58th-minute goal, sparking ominous predictions from the more pessimistic element of their support.

However, Matt Ritchie told NUFC TV: “I thought we performed really well in spells, we got into some really good areas.

“The quality wasn’t quite there in the final third – speaking for myself, really, I feel I should have had a shot on one and there was one cross that I felt I should have done better with personally.

“We got into some good areas, created some in the final third – I thought Miguel and Joe were a real handful. Miggy was fantastic throughout the whole game and I’m sure that will excite everyone involved with the club, so there are certainly positives to take.

“Defensively we were very solid, very sound, and it’s just disappointing that the goal came from a little bit of sloppy play from us rather than outstanding play from Arsenal.”

There was little to choose between the sides until substitute Jetro Willems, whose introduction moments earlier had come amid initial confusion over his role, allowed full-back Ainsley Maitland-Niles to intercept Paul Dummett’s pass and cross for Aubameyang to control and beat keeper Martin Dubravka.

Ritchie said: “Playing top teams with top players, you have to limit them to very little. We did that and they probably only had one or two shots on our goal.

“But at the top level, they take them and Aubameyang, a top striker, did that, so it’s frustrating. But we need to dust ourselves down and move on.”

Newcastle United fans – who are still hurt by the exit of a top manager in Rafa Benitez – are having none of it though.

The Toon faithful – who witnessed a clear lack of quality from Newcastle United during the game – responded in disdain to the comments made by Ritchie on the club’s official Twitter account –

The Magpies will attempt to open their account at the second time of asking at promoted Norwich City next Saturday

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