Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye, our top two French Internationals haven’t played yet in pre-season, after they have been back at Newcastle for only a week, since having some rest following their Euro 2012 exploits.
Hatem Ben Arfa – in action earlier this year
Alan Pardew has said that Newcastle lacked some flair and creativity in the game at Den Haag on Saturday, and certainly the two Frenchman have plenty of that, and especially Ben Arfa, Newcastle’s mercurial winger, who seems to be able to do almost anything on the football pitch, when he’s in the mood.
The Newcastle manager has today said that striker Shola Ameobi and reliable center-back Mike Williamson are likely to start against Hartlepool tomorrow night, and fit again Dan Gosling and and rising young star James Tavernier are also likely to get a start.
This is what Alan Pardew told the local press this morning:
“We are looking forward to it. It is another game and the guys who did not get the main bulk of it in Holland will do tomorrow.” “Shola will play and Willo too.” “Then we can go into Cardiff with everybody ready to go.”
Ben Arfa’s fitness is a apparently becoming a worry for Newcastle, so we have to assume he’s come back not in particularly good shape, after the few weeks off he had following the Euro 2012 tournament.
It’s shades of what happened last season, when the 25 year-old injured his left ankle on Newcastle’s American tour, in the 0-0 draw with Sporting Kansas City, and he was carried off on a stretcher to the dismay of Newcastle fans.
Alan said yesterday that he wants to see Ben Arfa become more consistent in a Newcastle jersey next season, and no doubt he will be handling him with kit gloves after he has had a few injuries over the last two years at Newcastle.
The Frenchman had that terrible double fracture of his left leg at Manchester City in early October two years ago, and to the lad’s credit he came back well last season, and was outstanding for Newcastle from January on.
Alan was asked today if the Frenchman would be playing tomorrow night at Hartlepool United:
“Possibly, but he is way behind and for a number of reasons.”
A short answer from the Newcastle gaffer, but it does seem difficult for the former Lyon and Marseilles player to make the first game against Tottenham a week come Saturday, and that’s a pity because the lad can unlock almost any defense on his day.
Gabby Obertan showed up well on Saturday, and he could get the start against Spurs, but there are also players like Sammy Ameobi and Romain Amalfitano, who can do a decent job on the right wing.
We would expect Ben Arfa to get some playing time both tomorrow night and on Saturday at Cardiff City, and with some diligent training this week and next, we suppose he could make the squad for our first game of the season on 18th August.
He’s also in the French squad with Yohan Cabaye, to play at Le Havre against Uruguay on the Wednesday before the season starts against Tottenham.
We hope to see Yohan Cabaye in the last two pre-season games, and it seems that Mathieu Debuchy’s pal reported back in good shape, and come to think of it we’d also like to see Mathieu Debuchy playing at Newcastle – soon.