Ben Arfa first suffered his hamstring injury against Maritimo last November, and he returned to action against Fuham in early December and made it worse, but he finally came back last Thursday night in Moscow, and we thought he gave a good account of himself, in his first game back after being out so long.
Ben Arfa in action on Thursday night in Moscow
We had head in Alan’s press conference yesterday that the Frenchman was a bit stiff, and the Newcastle manager has said today that he will not start against Stoke, and we suppose it’s natural to be tentative after what happened at Fulham last year.
This is what Pardew said in the Sunday Sun today:
“We think he should be OK,” ”He’s tentative and we’re tentative because it was such a bad injury that he had.” But he came through the period of the game well the other night.” “He’s a little bit stiff but we think he can make the bench. “
“He won’t start. He was the scourge of Stoke last year, he caused them havoc so at some point I’d love to put him out there.” “Without him, it’s a bit like taking Suarez out of Liverpool. To us he’s that special player who can create something and we’ve really missed it.”
“There are so many games that are tight in the Premier League.” ”You just need a player to unlock the door sometimes.” “Sometimes you can come off the pitch and say ‘We played really well’, like we did at Stoke in November, but we didn’t win and he turns them into wins because he just produces the moment.”
“And that’s what we are looking for in the last 10 games and hopefully an extension in the Europa League too.” “Certainly we would have had more points on the board if he had been fit, and I believe that we’d be safe by now.”
So it seems that the game plan is to tire Stoke out this afternoon – and Moussa Sissoko can probably do that all on his own.
And then bring on Ben Arfa in the last 20 minutes to get some goals and finish the job and and improve our goal difference, which for the second season running is not too good.
A win is what we need this afternoon – and that’s all that matters right now.
Howay The Lads!!
You can also reach Ed at firstname.lastname@example.org