Newcastle found a way to win a very close game against Bolton at St. James’ Park this afternoon, and it was the skill of Frenchman Ben Arfa that made it possible.
Mercurial Ben Arfa - after scoring Newcastle’s first goal this afternoon
The way this lad has been playing over the last few weeks, suggests strongly he is now back to his very best form and he’s very mature too.
And on 73 minutes this afternoon he got the ball about 10 yards inside his own half and went straight forward and ended up putting the ball into the back of the net (yes – with his left foot), for another aastonishing individual goal from the French International.
Here’s a short video of his goal in case you haven’t yet seen it – and the commentator is quite excited.
Immediately after the game today Alan Pardew said the Newcastle players will only concentrate on the next game, which is against Stoke a week come Saturday:
“We’re just looking to the next game,” “But we’re not discounting the Champions League. It is there in front of us but we’re having a bit of fun about it, teasing ourselves and joking about it – which is a nice way to be.”
“Hopefully in three years time that won’t be the case, we’ll be a little bit more serious about it. Don’t think we’re going about it flippantly. We are going to try and win every game and see where it leads.”
It was a really tough game for Newcastle today, but they mounted increasing pressure on Bolton as the second half went on, and the breakthrough was a spectacular one, and Ben Arfa was probably the difference between the two sides today.
And on 82 minutes great play by Shola Ameobi led to the second goal from Papiss Cisse, which was the killer for Bolton.
Shola beat his man on the half way line and moved down the right wing, and rather than shoot he put a beautiful ball over to Papiss Cisse, who tapped the ball home for his 10th goal of the season in just 9 games.
With Tottenham losing at home to Norwich City 2-1 today, Newcastle are level on points with Spurs on 59 points, which beats the total Glenn Roeder got in 2006 by one point, when he won six of the last seven league games.
Chelsea play tonight at Fulham in a televised game, and we’ll be watching that one, as Newcastle have put pressure on the Blues. If they don’t win, then Newcastle will remain in 5th place, which gets automatic entry into the Europa League.
And with 5 games remaining we could even beat the 69 points Bobby Robson got in 2003, or even the 71 points he got in the previous season, both of which qualified for the Champions League.
Wonder if Alan Pardew can win 10 of the last 10 league games – he’s half way there now.