Why giving Ben Arfa a start would be a bad move

Guaranteed a starting place?
There seems to be a train of thought amongst fans suggesting that Hatem Ben Arfa should be starting in these next few games.

These thoughts rumble along the lines of him being “too good to keep being left out” which is fair enough and, longer term, is something that I agree with. In the short term I don’t though, and here are my reasons for that.

First off, after the last time I dared to question Hatem Ben Arfa about the “compassionate leave” which, apparently, was a “misunderstanding” according to Alan Pardew let me clarify something. I believe that Ben Arfa is the most technically gifted player on our books. The players seem to disagree and say that Colo is but I guess that is what opinions are all about. Anyway, to me Ben Arfa is an undoubted talent and it’s only a matter of time before he starts to show it and assumes a place in the first team.

However that shouldn’t be right now in my opinion. I’ve seen little of Ben Arfa in the games I’ve been to that suggests to me that he is ready to start in the Premier league. Yes he’s made a few runs and shown some nice touches, but he’s also had some horror touches and has gifted the ball away on occasion which has led to chances for the opposition. Mention defence to the former Marseille man and I dare say you’d get a rather Gallic shrug of the shoulders in return.

Ben Arfa is quite clearly rusty, which is understandable when you consider that the lad has spend pretty much a year out of the game and has only made eight appearances in just over 18 months. He is probably fully fit by now, but there is a difference between being training ground fit and being match fit.


Getting match fitness is something that will only come with….. games. It’s not hard to fathom out is it? However do you include him on the basis of something he might do at the expense of a player who has played a part in us being third in the table? And if so, what kind of message does that send out to the rest of the squad who have worked hard for their chance only to have someone come into the team based purely on a name?

To me it risks everything this team is about. It’s been said that is a player plays well then he keeps the shirt. we’ve seen it with Danny Guthrie who has come in and done well, and Leon Best who has proved to be an able partner for Demba Ba. How do you think they’d feel if, no matter how well they perform, they were pushed down the pecking order by someone who has essentially just returned from injury? What kind of motivation is that?

Ben Arfa’s time will undoubtedly come, and once it does come I have a suspicion that we’ll see something special on occasion. Until then he’ll just have to bide his time, like every other player has had to do, or risk upsetting a philosophy that has served us so well so far this season.

What do you think?

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.

69 thoughts on “Why giving Ben Arfa a start would be a bad move

  1. Agree Toonsy, that’s why pretty much all of our players respect Pardew even if they’re not in the team because they know if they get a chance and they perform, they’ll keep the shirt.

    But… Best is a big doubt for Saturday and I think he will go with Ben Arfa if Best doesn’t make it.

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  2. Unleash him against Norwich. They play quite open attacking football and should give him a chance to attack them.

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  3. Dan – In event of injury then Ben Arfa will be in there with a shout of starting no doubt. But it’s up to him to do as the rest have done and show that he deserves to keep the place.

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  4. After the African Cup of Nations when everyones back we’re going to have a lot of options with Ba, Best, Ben Arfa and presumably Maiga!

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  5. Paul – Slightly different. Tiote has shown what he offers the team, but I’d stick with Guthrie for now. He has done nothing to lose his place so why should he? Especially with Tiote still struggling apparently.

    Look at Ryan Taylor. Should we drop him and play Santon?

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  6. I disagree with this article completely, yes he is lacking match practice but how to you gain match practice? By playing matches! If he is fully fit I say play him on the right wing, that way if he is struggling its not gonna majorly upset the rest of the team, let him run at defenders, let him make mistakes and learn from them. But I for one think it may take him half hour to get into the flow and if he plays the full 90 he will put on a show in the 2nd half

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  7. I agree.

    Although he is getting better match by match, I don’t think he’s ready to start yet.

    Why doesn’t he play reserve games to get match practice?
    Is he treated differently to our other players?
    It does look that way from the outside.

    I’d go 4-5-1 against $ity.
    With Cabaye top of a CM triangle.

    I have also wondered about playing Best on the right wing.
    Someone to hoof the ball up to and hold on to it.

    I think we may do a lot of hoofing on Saturday.

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  8. i know bennys been out for a year and rusty but the last few tyms hes came on hes gave the ball away alot and i dont think we can afford to do that against city !! play the same 4-4-2 weve played all season and hopefully have tiote and cab in the middle!! gutierez on the left and guthrie on the right 😯 😯 im just guessing now

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  9. I know a lot of people are still sceptical about the Maiga whether it will actually happen or not. Now I know you can’t be 100% until you seen on the official site but have a scan through Mark Douglas’ tweets and as we all know he is very highly regarded;

    https://twitter.com/#!/MsiDouglas

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  10. Just put this on the last thread.
    People always knock best and want ben arfa becasue one has the β€˜name’ and the other doesn’t. Best works hard presses other teams defences which helps our defensive aspect and his running creates chances which helps ba. Whenever ben arfa comes on he’s looked off the pace, ben arfa will return to his best but it’s going to take him time been out for over a year and hasn’t had pre-season. No point throwing him in. Ben arfa or best shouldn’t even be a question at the moment.

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  11. cockney magpie
    November 16, 2011 at 11:01 (Edit)

    “If he is fully fit I say play him on the right wing, that way if he is struggling its not gonna majorly upset the rest of the team”

    Two things.

    1 – It wouldn’t majorly upset the rest of the team, apart from leaving Danny Simpson ridiculously exposed by having a player who will drift where he wants to be.

    2 – He won’t be playing right-wing, regardless of how many fans seem to think it. He is the No 10 remember?

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  12. @Cockney Magpie: Pardew has stated that he only sees Ben Arfa in the no.10 role, and that he won’t play him on the wing, so I don’t think this will happen.

    I wouldn’t change from 4-4-2 personally, but this system requires our strikers put in a defensive shift too, which maybe Ben Arfa is not used to. You would think that he’s going to have to get used to it if he ever wants to replace either Best or Ba though. It’s a tricky one!

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  13. I think if anyone had any doubts that Pardew was bluffing when he said Ben Arfa won’t be played on the wing just has to look to the Everton game where Sammy came on ahead of him.

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  14. Pardew will have a very definite game plan for this one. He’ll pick the team to do a job and I’d back him on that. I don’t think it’s a simple matter of if you’re playing well you keep the shirt. If it was me I’d play Santon right wing. One thing you can bet on though – with the shifts our wingers put in defensively, Mancini won’t play with two wingers. We have to have a 433 game plan.
    On topic – I’d play Ben Arfa. He looked a lot fitter against Everton and was chasing and harrying.

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  15. defo cant play central midfield player out on the right wing…oberton is making progress and could play..he is the key..the out ball when we are under pressure i hope he makes it…

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  16. My response to this post is in the balance of fairness ‘why giving Ben Arfa a start could be a good move’.

    1) He has been back from injury for quite a while now. To say he is rusty still would be quite suprising considering the games he has played and now this last 2 weeks it is getting towards a pre-season the amount of training time he has had.

    2) If Best is out and we have 5 in midfield and Ba upfront alone then Ben Arfa is that player that can link the play between the midfield and the striker or the wingers.

    3) The fact that this ground is where Ben Arfa was injured, I just think it might get the team and the fans more up for it, especially if De Jong plays. I bet Ben Arfa would like to go there and get a goal or an assist. Look at the way Ba played at Stoke, a ground he obviously had something to prove at.

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  17. Disagree we are way too open to play 4-4-2 against sides who keep the ball well, Even QPR had us chasing shadows for practically the full 90.

    With Best possibly not 100% it is the perfect chance to play Benny in a 4-4-1-1 dropping into midfield to help us retain possession and as for refusing to defend: Van der vart does feck all defending yet he twitchys first name on his team sheet, Same with Fergie and ronaldo a few years back and even here with Robert and Ginola in the recent past.

    We carried Nolan last season in a 4-4-2 so i dare bet Tiote and Cabaye could get away with Benny in the team in a 4-4-1-1

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  18. Ben Arfa has done nothing to merit a start therefore shoud not get one, Best has done more than enough to keep his place.

    I dont think Padew fears the backlash of Ben Arfa or other players diva attitudes. He has a spine.

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  19. So who would play instead of Ben Arfa with Marveaux and Obertan out injured??? Only other real option is Gosling who is probably more of central midfield player isn’t he?

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  20. @23

    No player is bigger than the team. So if he gets the hump f*ck him, we dont need players like that in our team.

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  21. Great article Toonsy! One of those knife-edge arguments – leave it plenty of time to run!

    I think with Best and Tiote injured, and from what AP said on Talk Sport this morning, we may see Benny start in a 4-4-1-1. It may have been a diversionary tactic, but he pointed out that every team that’s tried to contain city has been spanked, and the likes of QPR who went at them have done far better. That suggests an attacking side with creativity, which to me suggests Benny and Ba, with Guthrie and Cabaye in the middle and the best choice of specialist wingers we can manage given injuries (is Marveaux crocked?)

    Whatever happens it should be a corker as long as Pards does decide to attack. Citeh can be weak when it comes to centre-backs (just hope Kompany is either out or has an off day!) so Ba and Benny would be a real threat.

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  22. Pards confirmed Tiote pretty much out, by the way. So I think it may be a matter of…

    Weeeeee’re gonnnnaaaaa scooooooooore ooooone mooooooore thaaaaan yooooooooouuuuuu!

    My favourite strategy. Glory or bollock-all. πŸ˜€

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  23. Don’t get me wrong, i like benny, he’s very talented – but – (shock horror i’m sure i’m going to get slammed) – I don’t think he’s this wonderkid that everyone is making out. youtube is not the best place to scout someone. it doesn’t scout for inconsistency.

    i’m loving best at the minute, he played so well in the everton chasing the ball brilliantly and holding it up so well… it’s a kind of ‘unsung heroe’ role.

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  24. Is that right Whumpie? Tiote out? What about Obertan? Any news? Anyway I agree with you – have a real good go at them. If we don’t Silva/Aguero will take us apart at some point.

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  25. CC @21 is spot on.

    Tiote does the defending of 2 so he can do Ben Arfa’s. In return Ben Arfa can do the attacking of a world class player. Sorted.

    I bet in a few weeks if he’s hitting top form all these doubters will be talking about him like he’s God again. πŸ˜‰

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  26. I would rather play Santon on the right wing. He can defend and he can dribble, he is a natural wide player with pace. He’s played there before. Seems an obvious choice to me.

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  27. @whumpie. He has? I thought Tiote declared himself fit for this one.
    I’d love to see Ben Arfa vs City, revenge is on the cards. He’ll get a sub role for 20 mins at the very least.
    But for a start, I think Man Utd would be perfect. They aren’t the same team as the past few years and Benny will be able to make space for himself against their current players.
    Ended up watching all the youtube vids of Ben Arfa today. I really can’t wait for him to get back to that level of play. He creates so many chances for the strikers in every game, it’s just ridiculous. What’s also ridiculous is how easily he skips past players. Unbelievable. *gets back to youtube*

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  28. Kompany is suspended isn’t he? He got a straight-red against Wolves on 29th October and there’s only been one PL game since then…

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  29. the way ronnie gill is talking it looks like benny will get a start…

    actually, i’ve just turned my opinion round.. i hope he does start. A bit of a romantic feeling i know but it’d be great for him to get his own back on man city with a goal or even (dare i say it) a brace and a win! 😯

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  30. If best was fit I’d not start Benny, but as he’s still crocked it seems it’s Benny or Shola, and while I think a fully-fit Shola could do a job, the Benny option seems more likely to find a route through the CBs.

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  31. Perhaps this is his time? If Best was fit there wouldn’t be a question and Benny would have to wait IMO. But if he is out and he is included it’s up to him to make the most of it.

    That’s my point, nee favouritism because of name πŸ™‚

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  32. Re Tiote: Not sure of AP’s exact words this morning (it was early; I was driving while dozy) but he was definitely giving the impression that Tiote was not in the reckoning.

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  33. Bring him on for the last half hour when we;re safe and have it won, it’s not “rocket surgery” πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜†

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  34. The cream always rise’s to the top and that will be the same for Ben Arfa , he will eventually get his chance and I think he will take it imo. He has the potential , imo , to take us from been a good side to a very good side. I think he will add that bit of quality to us. I know that is putting alot of expectation on him but he is quality and if he gets going I have every faith in him. But agree with the article he cant ( or any other player ) expect to walk straight into the side.

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  35. Devon – It was on Soccer AM. Danny Simpson said it on teammates when they asked who the most skillful players is.

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  36. Roy of the Rovers stuff I know but how unreal would it be (and fitting!) if Benny was to come off the bench and score the winner against Citeh?
    Hey, we can dream can’t we? πŸ˜€

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  37. Devon – It only stuck in the mid as me and the lads were watching it in Fluid before the Everton game and we had a bash at answering the questions. That one was the only one got wrong really.

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  38. Agree with Simpson, actually. Colo’s awareness and decision-making is unequalled in the squad. And he can kick a ball about a bit, too. πŸ˜€

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  39. In light of current injuries, my line up for satda would be;
    Krul
    Simpson STaylor Curlycini RTaylor

    Santon Guthrie Cabaye Tiote Jonas

    Ba

    Depending on how our fortunes fair on the day, could maybe take off Cabaye (if his fitness proves difficult after starting) or Guthrie (see the aforementioned) and bringing on Ben Arfa to play upfront with Ba, having switched to a 4-4-2.
    What about Best? i hear you all shout.
    Well if the game proves a bit mental for Santon, he could come on for him.
    I read earlier someone mentioned playing Best on the wing and after gannin, whaaaaaa? I thought that might not be too bad an idea coz personally I think Best can hold the ball really well.
    I know Eastlands (see what I did there? fnarr fnarr) is no place for experimentation, but wa not gonna know what the likes of Santon and Benny are capable of if we play them against weaker opposition, ie Norwich are we?
    Any thoughts?

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  40. Skip – I like that. Cabaye can also play advanced behind the striker. He done at Lille and scored 15 goals from there so it’s an options. Plus he has the work rate to be able to slip into midfield when defending.

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  41. Bloody hell! Me line up was aal neat and tidy til i submitted it and noo its all ower the place! Ye get the gist though. I hope 😐

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  42. Nobby…..Grew up in Battle Hill, live in Holy Cross noo. And before you ask, yes I would pass an advanced CRB check! ha ha πŸ™‚

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  43. if you know the powder monkey me uncle lives round there,… i’m a west end lad meself… walbottle but i work in waaaaaaaaaka. i won’t say what company incase anyone is on here and i get done for skivin! :mrgreen:

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  44. I know the monkey very well mate. used to gan a lot.
    then a got married πŸ™
    The wifes familys from throckley and me bro in law went to walbottle school.
    Hes 27ish.

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  45. Sidekick… aye? whereaboots?
    Hold on, prob not a good idea to say i suppose!
    I live right next to andrews shop

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  46. He did however, produce a stunna who was daft enough to gan wi me.
    Result!
    And tha proper quilted. Double result!! πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜† πŸ˜† πŸ˜†

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  47. Skip; I,m about 100 yards away from Andrews shop.
    My house backs onto the cemetary so you will know the street.

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  48. Sidekick aye mate my streets opposite side o the main road, ye knaa the one, cult de sac.
    Hey small world eh?
    Fancy a pint?
    Only kiddin mate, on me way to school to pick up the fruit o me loins

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  49. In his appearances so far this season, he has shown nothing to suggest he is ready to take somebody elses place in the side. I suggest he keeps working hard in training and be a bit more consistent when he does get game time. I hate the fact people think he should be guaranteed a 1st team place based on 1 or 2 games almost 2 years ago. This team is unbeaten ffs, why tear the shape, formation and spirit apart just to accomodate a player who has it all to prove again. Yes he can produce moments of magic, but this team has done nothing to deserve being unsettled by 1 player who is not sharp or consistent enough to justify it. Until the team actually begin to lose matches and put in poor performances, then nobody deserves to be made to step aside…

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  50. Tiote and Cabaye have to start, that much is plain. Guthrie has done good but he’s still far from taking one of their places in my opinion. Without Tiote we’ll be butchered by mancity in the centre anyway. Leave out Best due to injury and put guthrie on, then ben arfa at half time if we’re not attacking enough?

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  51. If you look at it from another perspective you could say seeing as no one expects us to get a single point from the next three games then playing ben arfa to get him match fit would be beneficial t everyone,

    also what do we gain by continually flogging a possibly half fit best when as much as hes improved i would still expect the defenders alone of the next 3 clubs to be able to run rings around him and him cause them very few problems and you could argue that we would just persist with humping the ball up at him to flick the ball on to no one just to ease the pressure…

    if tiote is fit i think guthrie will play right wing too, think thats wrongs myself as the reason we all got on his back was because of his poor performances playing on the right and continually drifting infield exposing simpson and that was in the championship!

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