Finally after a week of nothing but bad news, there is some good news for the fans.
Hatem Ben Arfa has returned to training following his injury in pre-season! Although it’ll be a few weeks before he’s back to competitive action it’s good to see he’s on the mend and not finished like some suspected.
Hatem Ben Arfa was back at Darsley Park yesterday and although he didn’t train with the first team he did some mobility work with our physio Derek Wright to assess his progress and has already started running, so it won’t be long until he’s kicking a ball around with the Frenchies.
I’m sure this will have been a boost to everyone surrounding Newcastle. The fans have pinned high hopes on Ben Arfa and he’s seen as talisman as such, so it’s great to see him back. Also Alan Pardew will be looking forward to having the dangerous French attacking midfielder back at his disposal and that should boost his spirits after a disappointing week.
But most importantly I’m sure the players are really glad he’s back. He’s spoken to a few of the French players and persuaded them to come to the club and I’m sure they’ll be looking forward to linking up with a player who was regarded as such a talent in France. It will also hopefully help them bed into the squad, which should create a better team spirit.
Personally I cannot wait to see Ben Arfa back in action. I know some will say that we haven’t seen enough of him to really think he’s a class player thus far, but does what he’s done at previous clubs not matter? When he first played for us he showed that little spark of brilliance, something we don’t have at the moment. He hardly had chance to impact properly which was no fault of his own, but hopefully we’ll see him regain form this season.
I’m not pinning all of my hopes of Ben Arfa, but we’re certainly going to be a better team with him fit and firing. His pace and trickery, playing off a striker is something we really need.
Some people say we needed a striker with pace. I know Ben Arfa isn’t that, and he’s not a reason not to buy a new striker, but he is worth trying in that role. Who knows? He might find his shooting boots.
When Ben Arfa returns it will give Alan Pardew a selection dilemma, but a good one for a change. In midfield we’re likely to either play 4 or 5, and with Cheik Tiote and Yohan Cabaye certainties to start it leaves the two wing spaces open, and possibly someone behind the forward. We have Gabriel Obertan, Sylvain Marveaux, Jonas Gutierrez, Dan Gosling and Hatem Ben Arfa all capable of playing those positions, which makes it a real dilemma.
With two strikers I’d play with Ben Arfa, Cabaye, Tiote and Obertan, with Ba and Best up front. If we were playing five in midfield I’d have to play Cabaye, Tiote, Obertan, Ben Arfa and Jonas, that’s not because I don’t rate Marveaux, it’s because to me he’s an unknown quantity. Hopefully he can show me that he deserves a place in the team in the upcoming weeks.
Even I struggled with that and it’s just my little dream team. Pardew has to pick the best side possible and disappoint a couple of players. I wonder how Jonas would feel if he was left out after playing a part in every game last season?
Newcastle have refused to set a return date for Ben Arfa as they’re not totally sure and would like to avoid what happened last year when he missed his return date.
All hail King Arfa!