Touted as one of Europe’s best talents, Newcastle United were due to get their hands on a pure ‘wizard’ of the game, an exceptional French flair footballer from the bowels of the infamous Clairefontaine academy.
Hatem Ben Arfa’s debut at Newcastle started with the proverbial ‘bang’, with a glorious goal in a 1-0 away win to Everton. However, then came that Nigel de Jong tackle and Ben Arfa’s season was duly over. Alan Pardew knew exactly what he had at his new club acquisition and signed the playmaker in January 2010, and the black & white fans could not believe the talent their club was gaining.
Talk of No.10 roles and word class status over the summer, laid the expectations down for the young Frenchman, but on rehabilitating from his long lay off, Ben Arfa hasn’t had as fruitful a time as he, and probably all of Newcastle, would have hoped.
A goal against Bolton, a wonder goal v Blackburn and a few cameos here and there; Hatem Ben Arfa has struggled to dig his way into Alan Pardew’s first team plans, deemed a little too ‘sporadic’ in his play and lacking the defensive discipline the team requires.
Of late though, Newcastle United have not been playing like the team that has seen them flourish to the dizzy heights they’ve reached in the Premier League this season. 2 hugely disappointing halves of football in the last 2 games have seen the Mags take just 2 points from 6 at home to opposition that would probably have been steamrolled earlier on in the campaign.
And, in both of those encounters, a certain Frenchman has shown his credentials and offered Newcastle that little spark they seek to continue their progress over the final 11 hurdles of the season. Against Sunderland particularly, Hatem Ben Arfa manipulated the ball like no other player at Newcastle, at least, can do, constantly tormenting Sunderland’s Keiran Richardson to the point of his departure via substitution.
NUFC_Stats looked at the numbers for the enigmatic Frenchman so far… (page 2)