A risk worth taking?

Will Benny establish himself at NUFC?
The weekend saw Newcastle lose in the league for the first time this season and suffer a defeat to title chasers Manchester City.

It also saw them fall down the pecking order in the table to 4th due to Tottenham Hotspur beating Aston Villa 2-0 on Monday evening.

The club battled hard against a sturdy City defence and unfortunately lost their best defensive record in the league at the expense of Manchester City’s amazing strike force. The Toon Army also showed tremendous fight and spirit and despite losing the game the support for the team was, as always, amazing.

One of the stand out performances for me during the match was Hatem Ben Arfa, but I still can’t quite decide whether he had a good game or not. The team had enough chances to win the game in attack and despite having the better of the chances failed to hurt City. Ben Arfa was involved in all that was good in attack and everything bad in defence. Is he good enough to start and play regularly?

Returning from a broken leg, we all saw his attacking ability come to the forefront, as he latched onto a loose ball, running at the City defence his shot unluckily came back off the post having beaten Joe Hart all ends up. His pace and quick feet worry defences and his eye for goal, still make him an ideal winger for the Magpies.

However, is this enough? On the flip side I would argue he ultimately cost Newcastle the three ,or at the very least a stab at a draw. It a team game, we know, but his rush of blood to the head moment in bringing down Micah Richards for a stone wall penalty saw Newcastle’s chance of a comeback disappear. He tracked back well to be fair, more than I have seen him do before, but his sloppiness and half hearted approach to certain games has to addressed.

Is he too much of risk to play all the time in the big games? With Sylvain Marveaux, Danny Guthrie, Jonas Gutierrez, Dan Gosling and Sammy Ameobi all fighting for places, does Ben Arfa warrant his?

Thanks to John Mason for sending this in for us to debate.

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.

113 thoughts on “A risk worth taking?

  1. Cheers for sending this in John 🙂

    Personally I think it’s a bit harsh on Ben Arfa though. He was our best attacking player on Saturday without a doubt. The penalty thing was just one of those things, it was clumsy, but he’s not designed for that kind of thing so fair play to him for trying to help the team.

    I was impressed with his tracking back. I thought it would be a side we’d not see but he got stuck in when he could.

    For me, the thing is he can change a game in an instant and that makes him worth the risk. He can do that something different that none of our other players can and that can be worth it’s weight in gold against the top teams. In fact it very nearly worked out against City when he hit the post and again when he set Ba up.

    He’ll be key for us and will win us points on his own. He’ll strop off and spit the dummy, but he is one of those type of players that is worth putting up with just for what he can do on the pitch.


  2. Sometimes in big games, the best for of defence can be attack and we do not want to go to Man Utd with a defensive attitude, which means, we need players like Ben Arfa in because they can be match winners or saviours and they give oppo teams nightmares, which makes them think twice about going at us all guns blazing knowing we have players like him that can make them pay.


  3. Wolfie – You ever thought of writing an article? I reckon you’d get some cracking debate going 😉


  4. i think ben ARFA did fine he did every thing right except that challenge On richards Other than that he was doing every thing right he was unlucky to hit the post i know that best help ba with his holding role but best s finishing IS not that great he gets fair amount of chances to score but he puts the ball over the bar or way wide ben ARFA cant play that hold up play no way but he can play with his own ability which IS way better than hold up play which IS lots of flair in his game he can unlock the defence with his passes he can dance around the defenders and can shoot and can pass the call to his partner easily with his quick feet and can finish better than best so i think ben ARFA should play and yes he IS way better than best for sure


  5. Where you sitting Toonsy?

    Ben Arfa has to start for me, if he keeps on going considering that was his first league start in 13 months then he’s going to be one of the first names on the team sheet for me.


  6. To be fair – the penalty Ben Arfa gave away was when he was back covering for Steven Taylor, who was off stemming the blood and changing his shirt.
    PS – we’re still JOINT best defence :o)


  7. The only reason he was so far back when giving away the penalty is that S. Taylor had to go off the pitch with a bleeding nose (which happens fairly often, don’t know if its his problem or if he keeps getting bashed in the face).


  8. Micah Richards was very clever in luring in Ben Arfa, showing him an opportunity to make a challenge before edging his body in the way knowing that Benny’s momentum would carry him into his back. Perfectly legal shield that Benny didn’t read. Can’t blame him. Experienced defenders might have made the same challenge.


  9. Wolfie – Just ping us an e-mail. Simples 🙂

    Dan – One day maybe. You’ll have to collar Mark though. The deal is I get us there and back and he sorts the seats out which works out pretty well.


  10. Dan – He’s having issues with his laptop. It won’t pick up an internet signal so he is struggling to get on anywhere. Plus he hates his Blackberry charver sket phone 😆


  11. Ben Arfa has to start. That penalty was the one thing that he did wrong. We all know that he isn’t known for his defensive abilities, but hey, at least he was back there trying! He is meant to be a starter for the squad, and he needs to just shake off all the rustiness in these big matches.

    Would love to see him get a goal this weekend!


  12. Toonsy, it’s good for Twitter 😆

    Apparently in Keans contract they’ve taken out the bit that if they were to ‘relieve him of his duties’ they wouldn’t have to pay him anything… Why would he agree to that 😆


  13. Dan – Their backing of the manager is admirable at a time when it’s just easy to get rid, but my god, how bad does someone have to be before they get the hint?

    They’ve even upset the main sponsor by ignoring them 😯


  14. Toonsy, is it really that admirable or are they just keeping him because they have a fighting chance of staying up and he is very very cheap to keep 😆


  15. I have to agree with most on here. To judge Ben Arfa’s performance based on the penalty shout is not useful. Playing against the best attacking unit in England and with Saylor off the field it was just a poor striker’s tackle. Otherwise though he is more creative than the rest of our strikers put together. To watch him play you realize how far ahead he is thinking and often his passes go astray simply because other players can’t read the game like he can and don’t move toward openings that Ben Arfa sees. Once he gets used to playing with our group of players I am convinced he will be fantastic but he has to get lots of playing time.


  16. “toonsy
    November 23, 2011 at 17:24

    Wolfie – You ever thought of writing an article? I reckon you’d get some cracking debate going 😉 ”

    Toonsy you lazy ****! 😛 😉


  17. First comment here, long time reader (but silent one) First of all very nice blog! 🙂
    Im from sweden and i have a Q:
    If you dont have a ticket now for the chelsea game do you guys think it’s possible to get one? I’m visiting Newcastle next weekend so… bit bad planning but its frikkin expensive to get one early have i heard. 😐



  18. Zinktoon, last I seen mate there wasn’t many tickets left for the Chelsea game and the ones that are will probably be the most expensive seats.


  19. “zinktoon
    November 23, 2011 at 18:37

    First comment here, long time reader (but silent one) First of all very nice blog! :smile:”

    Don’t worry mate, I also read the blog silently, my work mates used to get pissed off when I read the articles out loud 😉
    Welcome 😆


  20. Toonsy,
    Thats why when I send you articles, there’s loads off cleaning up to do, and plenty typos… just to keep you on your toes 😉

    On the article, I think Ben Arfa definately looked much improved but still needs to work on his workrate and energy levels much like Obertan has since arriving.
    If he can combine the two, he would be world class.
    Just think sometimes he gets a bit clever with his passes and sells teamates a bit short.
    Other times he needs to be more selfish when it comes to shooting, the lad has a great shot on him.


  21. Ben Arfa almost created 2 goals by himself, which is what no one else has given us in a long time IMO.

    He doesn’t strike me as a player that can dominate a game for long stretches. He needs a good bit of possession. I think the reason he went invisible for long stretches on saturday was thta we simply couldn’t get possession in the first half.

    So that’s how I think he will be- invisible for long stretches in matches where we are not keeping possession, but a couple moments of absolute brilliance that will get us badly needed goals.


  22. Ben Arfa is getting better game by game and the more games he gets the better he will play, he is our most creative player and must stay in the side.


  23. A better way to gauge whether Ben Arfa should play is to look at our own fears when we play dangerous teams.
    Man Utd for instance…Do we worry about what most of their players can do, or do we worry about what their “killer2 players can do as in Nani, Rooney ,Hernandez e.t.c.
    The answer is obviously those players right.

    So by the same token, they need to worry about what our players can do to them in the class bracket, so , looking at it like that , Ben arfa will strike more fear into them with Ba , than Ba and Best would.

    I’m not taking anything away from Best mind but to have the opportunity to take a point/points from them, we have to hit the tracks running and give them food for thought and be unpredictable.

    Ben Arfa affords us that unpredictability when we have a forward thinking mentality.

    To beat them in their own backyard, we have to take the game to them and not give them the same respect that we gave Man City in the first half.

    That’s just my opinion mind. 😀


  24. Wolfie
    Toonsy told ya to email him the article, not post it as a comment! 😉

    I agree with you. The only way sides cause Man United concern is by showing them no respect and no fear, and that means attacking them, not going there for the draw.

    If we are going to attack them, we need Ben Arfa, Ba, Cabaye, perhaps Guthrie/Gosling all playing.

    But having said that, I’d be nice to have that little bit of defensive cover with Tiote, Obertan and Jonas tracking back.


  25. Great comment MDS. I agree totally. In games where we can get more possession he will be very effective. Having Tiote in the side will allow us to turn the ball over far more often and start many more attacks. Give Tiote, Cabaye and Ben Arfa some time together on the pitch and good things will happen for us.


  26. I think its time to give Benny a run in the team, Wolfie touched on something I have said before, when we play a team that has special players we are always worried about them said players because we know that they are the players that can really hurt us and cause us no end of trouble.
    But we have one of them players of our own but up to now has been a bit part player, I think now is the time to give him the chance to cause allsorts of worry to the teams we play.


  27. DAVE at least benny showed he is willing to tackle even if it was half-arsed and full back went doon like a fanny,my little worry was he wouldnt chase back 😐


  28. Ice hows you mate all good I hope 😉 that was the thing that surprised me most, as I never imagined I would see Benny willing to scrap and tackle, but I dont think we would see that every game, or maybe Pards has hammered it into all the players that they have to fight for each other 😀


  29. I think teams will be careful when attacking us as the sight of Ba, Ben Arfa, and Obertan countering will cause them worries


  30. DAVE aye ime good mate,pup flew off y/day to start his new life in Malta.
    its took 32yr to get some peace at last 🙂 🙂


  31. Agree with Dave, wolfie and G2. It is the special players we tend to worry about, so why not let them worry about ours?

    I get the whole solid team thing, but a solid team can be nullified. With someone like Ben Arfa you can nullify him for 89 minutes, but in that one other minute he can do something different. How many people expected him to shoot instead of passing to Ba? That kind of thing.


  32. Ben Arfa should have been in the starting lineup against man city, hope Pardew wont make that mistake twice . Oh, btw, he s not a winger.


  33. Ice tell him I wish him all the best mate 😉
    Toonsy I do feel slightly bad for Best but I do honestly think that Benny mightn’t score as many goals but will give a lot more to the team overall.
    Yeah I was surprised he didn’t try the shot himsel very very surprised, I honestly think Pards has a hell of a lot to do with how our players are playing compared to how they played before.
    I think it was Ice posted a link to the Collymore show and he spoke very highly of Pards and the way he bigs up the players, and touched on the fact that last season most fans wanted to see the back of Saylor, and look at the way he is playing now and making most fans change their opinion’s of him, ok Stardy still hates him but then Stardy hates most people and more so if they are Geordies 😀


  34. Draganpixie
    November 23, 2011 at 19:48

    “Ben Arfa should have been in the starting lineup against man city, hope Pardew wont make that mistake twice”

    Ben Arfa did start 😕

    I’d also argue the winger point. Perhaps not a traditional winger, but he’s always been the one out wide of a front three. It’s only Pardew that has seen something different. In Pardew we trust 🙂


  35. thats what makes top players doing the un-expected the toon havent had a player like that for a long time


  36. Toonsy, it’s a good job Beye hasn’t played against us then otherwise he’d be wearing a balaclava 😆


  37. At the end of the day Ben Arfa was our best attacking outlet by far in that game, he can really hurt teams and will worry them. He will worry them because he is fast, has quick feet and can do things most players cant. He tracked back really well I thought, he just isn’t a very good player defensively, but he is, without a doubt, our best player offensively.


  38. Icedog
    Nonsense, Shola never does what I expect him to do.
    When I expect him to score a sitter he misses, when I expect him to trap a ball, he falls on his arse, and when I expect him to get dropped, he has a blinder.
    Most unpredictable player we’ve ever had.


  39. This is just a silly suggestion but I think I know a good plan how we can distract Man Utd and win this game easily.

    Ok bear with me and tell me if you agree with me.

    We can all agree that quite a lot of Man Utd players, look a bit, well erm gay right.
    We also know we have some tasty looking players ourselves ,

    So….. I think Pardew should make them all wear thong’s and no shorts…. obviously in Newcastle’s colours…

    But here’s the key…

    The players wear the thongs back to front and in essence, splitting their ball sacks and having one ball aside the string , basically a tasty set of matching balls with a dangly wangy slapping about, depending on the well hungness mind .

    The Man Utd players will obviously be looking at the bits…and they will be taking their eyes off the balls….I mean the football…..

    BINGO, we have them…..

    Is this a good plan or would it be best for me to get out more and maybe read some lasses mags hahahahahahaha


  40. Wolfie,
    If I were Toonsy I be having some serious second thoughts about that article he asked you to write… 😯


  41. I don’t know what came over me when writing that.

    All I remember was having a sly little rub through the tightness of my new hip hugging bum enhancing jeans and the next thing I’ve wrote that essay in a sort of twilight type trance. Good Lord. 😳

    What I mean’t to say was I’m sure our tastiest players will do the business for us against Man Utd and the next thing, I’m on a yacht drinking champagne with a scantilly clad Yohan Cabaye in my subconscious. 😯


  42. I’d better stop this carry on lol My wife has just looked over my shoulder and went beserk.
    She said “what the hell are you typing stuff like that for ” , she was furious , I just said ” ah it was just a laugh woman”.

    She said ” don’t give me that you weirdo , I found your subscription to the honey boys mag in the wardrobe under your dress” 😯

    Honestly what a nosey git she is.


  43. Dont let wolfie do a article man, hes to positive for my liking 😈 😆

    Imo, you need players like ben afra to beat the big teams, and most teams have players like him that dont track back!

    I would play him when he is match fit!


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