What to do with Hatem Ben Arfa?

A rather nice problem to have
Hatem Ben Arfa returned to action against Nottingham Forest, and by all accounts was very very good on his return from almost a year out of the game.

This will inevitably lead to calls for him to start the next match at home to Blackburn on Saturday, but the loudest calls, surprisingly, aren’t coming from the fans on this one. Instead it’s Ben Arfa himself who is eager for a slice of the action.

Yesterday it was revealed that he was “very happy” at Newcastle whilst he thanked the fans for the support they showed to him during what was a very long injury lay off. Now he insists that it’s payback time as he looks to quantify the faith put in him by the club and the fans.

“I cannot wait to be back at St James’ among our fans,” Hatem told The Journal. “I was very touched by their support. They were always behind me and I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart for that.”

He added: “Now, I want to give them back on the pitch what they gave me off it, times 1,000! I do not feel any pain at all. Now, the coach will make his choices. I think maybe he will get me slowly in the team, but I feel ready to play every game now!”



It leaves Alan Pardew with an undoubtedly nice yet rather tricky problem. Just what do you do with a player like Hatem Ben Arfa?

Leaving aside the obvious need for a change in formation to accommodate the Frenchman, for now anyway, can you really justify ripping the team that done so well at Aston Villa apart? On the other hand, can you risk not rewarding not giving those who did especially well at Nottingham Forest the other night, like Ben Arfa and Sylvain Marveaux for example, with a starting berth?

It will no doubt be a headache for Alan Pardew, but it will be a nice headache and it will be interesting to see how it’s dealt with.

Then take into account the formation, which I glossed over earlier. To play Ben Arfa “in the hole” it will require a change in formation. It may only be a slight change, but it’s still a change. Again, do you make that change on the back of a decent result and positive performance against Aston Villa in our last Premier League outing? Or do you put a bit of faith in the formation that featured at the City Ground on Tuesday?

My own gut instinct is to keep the same team and formation that done so well at Villa Park. I feel that they done enough on the day to warrant another bash at the Premier League together and I think that playing two strikers in Leon Best and Demba Ba will be the better way to go at home where we should be looking to attack teams like Blackburn.

That means that, for me anyway, Hatem Ben Arfa will have to make do with a spot on the bench. Being eased back into things won’t do him any harm at all and I’ve no doubt that the home crowd will still see him in action at some point. Maybe he can be that game changing substitute?

Just what do you do with Hatem Ben Arfa?

About toonsy

A lifelong Newcastle fan and current webmaster of this very 'blog who has the sole aim of creating a place by Newcastle United fans, for Newcastle United fans.

51 thoughts on “What to do with Hatem Ben Arfa?

  1. Give him an hour behind Best then bring Ba on.

    Off topic but some more good news…

    lee_ryder Lee Ryder
    #nufc AP presser “Davide Santon was running today and hopefully he will not need operation”

    And even more so…

    lee_ryder Lee Ryder
    Shola Ameobi is a doubt for Blackburn game with a knock #nufc

    Sorry Shola but you have been pony of late (or should that be donkey).

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  2. Agree bench for the blackburn game; they arent the most football loving team so they would just kick lumps out of him anyway.

    What a thought though… marveux and HBA from off the bench

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  3. no need to change a winning team or play someone just cause he’s fit . remember tino great player but changed a working system ?

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  4. lee_ryder Lee Ryder
    Yohan Cabaye donning leather jacket and white t-shirt today cooler than the Fonz #nufc

    Whatever you say about Mashley, he must be applauded for managing to exchange a tugboat for a dreamboat while paying less for mooring fees.

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  5. Toonsy @3

    I would suggest a 4,2,3,1 with a fluid, interchangeable 3 of Marveaux, Barfa and Jonas sat just behind either Ba or Best, with Cabaye and Tiote mopping things up and linking play between defence and attack.

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  6. Toonsy – as much as it pains me to say I think he will play off Ba which i think is what pards envisages.

    The trouble is best keeps scoring. it has to be something like this I reckon;

    Cabaye, Tiote
    Jonas, HBA, marveux
    Ba

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  7. I’m hoping for the same as TC @ 1. Give him an hour or so. Won’t have to change formation because Ba played the #10 role vs Villa connecting Midfield and Best. Ben Arfa will fit in there and show everyone how it’s done. I think the bigger question is Captain Marvellous. Where does he fit in? Does he fit in? Why does Cabaye make me feel all mushy inside? It’s time to go home to the girlfriend. Get out of my head, Cabaye!

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  8. Im guessing this will push Jonas out of the 1st team, with HBA replacing him.

    But yes, keep the same team from Villa, then unleash HBA later when Blackburn are knackered…

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  9. I don’t think I’ve ever had to write an article like this to be fair. Im used to writing ones wondering who we are going to play due to injury 😆

    A refreshing change

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  10. I think Ba is better every minute he is on the pitch and after 70min for Arfa, 120mins for Marveaux, IMO we should play 4-4-2 on Saturday.

    Let Ba and Best upfront and see how it work, if not let Ben Arfa to play 4-4-1-1 to control the game. Sub Marveaux and Sammy to fresh our wing in second half.

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  11. ah toonsy, i know you know exactly how to fit arfa in so stop playing coy mate.. it is basic and he fits in the hole, its his spot and its where he needs to go. he is not rough enough to go in the middle so that goes to tiote and cabaye etc and guthrie sometimes, the wings will go to marv, ober and jonas. spekaing of which, i would put jonas on the right and obertan on the left as he was good there for giggsy sometimes at manure.
    As the abscense of two top draw strikers the obvious thing is to rotate Ba and Best.. get shot of stroller for 1 million quid, loven for 500k, ranger for free. Dont bother bringing in a striker in January but bring in Pieters, thats about it i think as long as williamson fit to cover for staylor and colo.

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  12. Ben Arfa is good enough that he’ll need to be in the lineup no matter what, once he’s back to 100% fitness. The #10 role seems to be the natural fit for him in a 4-5-1. But if there are situations where we want a 4-4-2, I could see Ben Arfa and Marveaux playing as “untraditional” wingers, given the freedom to swtich sides and drift into the middle. This might leave our fullbacks exposed, but Cabaye and Tiote could both provide defensive cover. This could also work in a 4-3-3, with either Best or Ba in the middle and someone like Gosling or Guthrie joining Cabaye and Tiote in the midfield.

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  13. Craig Chisholm

    Jonas is invaluable whilst Raylor plays at LB. I think Jonas will be dropped once Santon gets in and is up to speed. Marveaux will take his spot.

    I also reckon Pardew is just waiting for Best’s form to dip so he can be replaced with Ba. This leaves our team looking like this:

    ———————————Krul——————————-
    Simmo———-S.Taylor————Colo———The Kid
    ——————–Tiote————–Cabaye——————
    Obertan———————HBA——————Marveaux
    ———————————Ba———————————

    Subs: Elliott, Best, R.Taylor, Jonas, Williamson, S.Ameobi, Gosling

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  14. my team for saturday

    krul
    simpson collo taylor taylor

    obertan tiote cabaye gutierez

    ba best

    subs
    harper
    ferguson
    gosling
    marveaux
    ben arfa
    lovenkrands

    thats the strongest ive seen our bench in a long long time!!!!!

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  15. Army that is quality looking bench and team …. game changers we havent had those for a while!!

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  16. Craig – Aha, but do you change it now, for Saturday, or do you give the team that played well at Villa anotherbash with its two strikers???

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  17. 4-2-3-1

    Krul

    Simpson Taylor Colo Santon

    Cabaye Tiote

    Jonas Ben Arfa Marveaux

    Best

    For me thats our strongest team we have 🙂

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  18. I think Obertan will be the player who is sacrificed for Ben Arfa long term. Though tbh the tactics used from game to game will change so a lot will depend on form.

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  19. think i would go with toonsy on this one for a hour anyway,but the thing i like about this is we have match winning players on the bench how many years since we could say that,just wish i could say that about the defensive side of things we def need depth there imo.

    good news about shola being injured like 🙂

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  20. AndrewNUFC says:
    September 22, 2011 at 15:24
    4-2-3-1
    Krul
    Simpson Taylor Colo Santon
    Cabaye Tiote
    Jonas Ben Arfa Marveaux
    Best
    —————————–
    Completely agree. Though I can see going 4-4-2 from time to time with Best and Ba and Ben Arfa on the left

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  21. Toonsy…. i would have 4 4 1 1 for sat with arfa playing first 45 in the hole, then put Ba in the hole for second half. Up front would be Best. If Best has shit game in second half move Ba up, take Best off and put Marv in the hole.

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  22. Ice – someone like Pieters, who can play a couple of positions, would be ideal imo. The problem we have with doing that is that its going to be hard to fit good players in based in our start. For arguments sake lets say Santon fulfils his huge promise and Saylor and Colo carry on doing well, where would Pietrrs come in?

    Mind you I guess we could play Santon at right back with Pieters at left back… Answered myself there, plus we have cover in a few positions 😆

    I’d like to see more quality in depth added to the strikers, but we need to get rid of one or two first in fairness.

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  23. Craig – That’s a waste of a sub though. How many managers make half time changes? To me he either starts and gets an hour, or sits on the bench and comes on at the hour mark

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  24. TOONSY not getting peters was a blow,but that ridgewell would have been good cover for tay/colo he had PL ex and now with willo out,if one of two c/h gets injured or red carded we are in the shite a bit imo

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  25. I think Pieters, or someone like him, would be my number one target in the winter, even more than a striker. We’d be well covered and very strong on the backline.

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  26. Toonsy,after seeing who is the referee for the match against blackburn i would like ben arfa not to play at all. Geez.

    Ref: Martin Atkinson – West Yorkshire based match official appointed for his first Magpies game of the season.

    Last season saw him handle three of our fixtures: the 6-0 home leathering of Aston Villa, 1-2 loss at Manchester City and 1-1 draw at Blackpool – that middle game seeing the brutal challenge on Hatem Ben Arfa by Nigel De Jong that resulted in neither a booking or even a free kick.

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  27. AOD – True, although what pisses me off more is that the focus remains on that tackle. I mean I think he is getting away easy. He also gave City a penalty that was outside the box and failed to give us one when Shola had his legs swept.

    On a sidenote, just learned that I’m going to miss the game on Saturday again. Was supposed to be the start of a week off but I have overtime to do. 14 hour shift. Grab grab grab 😆

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  28. If Ben Arfa is fit enough and not too tired from Tues I would start him behind Best. Best deserves his place imo.

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  29. team we should play on saturday in my opinion:
    Krul
    Simpson Colo Saylor Raylor
    Obertan Cabaye Tiote Marveaux
    Ben Arfa
    Best

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  30. I see a fair number of people would like to see Santon and Marveaux on the left side to start games. My guess is Pardew would start with Jonas in front of Santon as he is excellent at tracking back and supporting the LB position. If we are struggling with this going forward then probably have to bring on Marveaux on the left but probably not to start a game at least until Santon has a few games under his belt.

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  31. Can’t see HBA starting after playing on Tuesday in the cup. He would be a great impact sub after 60 minutes though. Same with Marveaux. Don’t push these players too hard right now. We are seeing solid improvement across most of the team. Colo and Saylor have been brilliant. Cabaye is growing with every game. We are steadily improving. Great position to be in with players returning now.

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  32. Toon Chicken: you’re on fire today, mate. Partly with your suggestion for a line-up, but mostly with this: “Whatever you say about Mashley, he must be applauded for managing to exchange a tugboat for a dreamboat while paying less for mooring fees.”

    Quality postage, monseiur.

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  33. Lacedaemonian: Referring to the last thread – really liked your post about the psychology of those in each camp. What really cracked me up was the very next post – from Craig – which pretty much proved your thesis in one.

    Cracked me up.

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  34. Question is: Does anyone think our best starting 11 is worse or much worse than Arsenal’s? Still worse in my opinion but not far away.

    It has been some years since we could possibly suggest that with a straight face?

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  35. “Whatever you say about Mashley, he must be applauded for managing to exchange a tugboat for a dreamboat while paying less for mooring fees.”
    —————-
    Indeed, that was well done. 🙂

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  36. TC @ 7 its not often I agree with you but you nailed it there me old bean, I knew you wern’t as daft as others say 🙂
    I would give Benny an hr see how he goes

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  37. Whumpie, I think most football fans are fickle (not a criticism) because you experience a rollercoaster of emotions continuously (probably even more so in close season). It just doesn’t stop. I never understand the blindly optimistic or the blindly pessimistic. Just look at Toonsy’s blogs, anybody would think he was bipolar. But isn’t this more honest than taking one side like Worky and his minions do? For me some folk seem to have an agenda that they feel the need to push. Anyway it is a matter of time before Toonsy starts referring to himself as ‘we’.

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  38. I think he’ll fit in fine as pardew was saying after the last game ba was the link between the midfield and attack. Think it’ll be the same formation just ben arfa will play the role ba has differently, prefering to come deep for the ball rather than ba wanting it played up to him.

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  39. My team for saturday:
    Krul
    Simpson S.Taylor Coloccinni R.Taylor
    Cabaye Tiote
    Marvo (can never remember how his names spelt) Guttierrez
    Best Ba

    however 65min into the game take either Ba or best (whoever’s playing worst/is tired) and put Ben Arfa in switching to 42211.

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  40. I agree, just because he’s fit it doesn’t mean that he should nudge the in-inform players out of the line-up.
    Krul
    Simpson S.Taylor Colo R.Taylor
    Cabaye Tiote
    Obertan Jonas
    Best Ba

    If they’re all fit

    Krul
    Simpson S.Tatlor Colo R.Taylor
    Cabaye Tiote
    Ba Ben Arfa Jonas (Marveaux)
    Best
    Play Ba on the right in a formation where he and Jonas(Marv) can get forward when attacking and almost make 3 strikers, if you watch how he and Best play together, he drops deep a lot which means we would have no one up front to poach them in. Also, if you watch some of his goals for West Ham, he’s attacked the far post from a diagonal ball or come from deep. I think he’s got a couple of long shots in him as well.

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