Alan Pardew has moved to calm fears amongst fans about the fitness of Hatem Ben Arfa and insists that the talented Frenchman looks in fine form as we head into the new season.
After such a long time out it’s perhaps natural that fans will question just what impact the horrific double leg break injury and subsequent lay-off will have had on Ben Arfa.
All in all it’s been just about 10 months since we last saw Hatem kick a ball for us which is a shame as we’ve seen exactly what he is capable of. Have another quick reminder by watching his superb display against Everton below. I know he wouldn’t have produced that week in and week out, but I’m also confident that we’d have got more points on the board with him in the team.
If he can produce that kind of performance on a fairly regular basis then we’ll have some player on our hands. This is why Pardew’s words today are nice to hear! The manager took time to talk about the general fitness of the players before moving on to Hatem Ben Arfa, but as this article is mainly about him I’ll start there.
Pardew told The Journal: “I’ve been delighted to see Hatem Ben Arfa out there running – he looks in excellent condition. I’m really pleased in him so far. Hatem gives us that X factor that we need. I said at the end of last season we would need one or two people to step up and provide us with that, and I hope Hatem can do that.”
“He is a player capable of that special pass or that special bit of skill that gets Newcastle fans off their feet. I can’t wait to work with him, he can be a very important player for us next season.”
He does indeed have the potential to get us off our feet, but I’m not getting carried away and won’t be expecting him to do it every game. To me Ben Arfa is like our modern day Pedro when on form. Both players have superb ball control, technical ability, and have a fair few tricks to boot and I’m looking forward to seeing what Ben Arfa can conjure up in the new season.
Moving onto the rest of the squad, Pardew revealed that in the main they are all fitter than expected. There are exceptions to that of course, which Pardew goes on to explain:
“We’re delighted to be back and I’m excited about the new season,” said Pardew. “I want to get the new season underway, I’m looking forward to it. The players all look in good shape.”
“One or two of them are below the level of the rest but everyone else is above the level we would expect from them and we’re just gearing up for the new season now.”
“Generally, everyone is above where I want them to be. Sylvain Marveaux hasn’t played for a while so he’s just slightly behind where we want him to be, and Xisco is a little bit behind. But the main guys are looking good.”
It sounds as though all is going well so far with regard to fitness and training. I’ll not be counting any chickens just yet as we do have a habit of picking up a lot of injuries, but it seems to be a case of ‘so far so good’ with regard to our training and fitness work.
As for Ben Arfa, I can’t wait to see the lad back in action!