The magic of Hatem Ben Arfa was once again displayed against a very strong Tottenham Hotspur side at the weekend.
Ben Arfa was on fine form which helped us see off league rivals Tottenham 2-1 and bagged the winning goal from the penalty spot after being the one who was brought down for the penalty to be awarded in the first place.
Demba Ba scored goal of the game in emphatic style after bending the ball into Brad Friedel’s far far corner, but it was Ben Arfa who was involved in the move which led up to the goal. Ben Arfa flicked the ball around a Spurs defender with a cheeky nutmeg which led to the ball being crossed in to Demba Ba by Danny Simpson. Call it an assist to an assist if you like.
Then of course there was the penalty which Ben Arfa created for himself after a short corner was returned to him by Cheik Tiote. Hatem came up against two Tottenham defenders and opted to plough through the middle of them which paid off as he was brought down in the penalty area and the referee gave a penalty. Ben Arfa stepped up and sent Friedel the wrong way by drilling the ball into the bottom right corner of the Gallowgate net.
For me he was the man of the match. He was always willing to pick up the ball and have a go at the Spurs defence and caused problems throughout the game.
Since joining Newcastle from Marseille in 2010 on a season long loan Ben Arfa has always shown glimpses of his ability, but after picking up a horrific leg break against Manchester City in the 2010-2011 season after Nigel De Jong’s crunching tackle it left many people wondering if he could ever reach the potential he was always capable of.
Newcastle were aware of the potential he had already shown before the injury and decided to make the deal permanent regardless of all the risks involved – a huge leap of faith for a club that looks for value in the transfer market.
Last season he came back from injury and had a fantastic season and performed consistently well in pretty much every game he played. This begged the question why didn’t Ben Arfa attract any interest in the transfer market off top European teams, not to say Newcastle aren’t big enough for Ben Arfa, but he has incredible ability and also played at Euro 2012 which gave him a big platform for teams to look at him and maybe try to sign him.
Overall he is an incredible player who can help Newcastle achieve great things and you get the sense that he is vitally important to us. He may be a bit sulky and he may need to be managed a bit differently, but so far so good on that front. When he is on the pitch there is always a chance of something happening and we’re never quite out of a game with him in the side providing the rest of the team don’t collapse around him.
This will be his first full season in Newcastle colours and it’s an important one not just for him, but also for the club being back on the European stage.
But how important will Hatem be to our fortunes this season?
Thanks to Connor Carrington for sending this in!