If we had a vote on who is Newcastle’s best player, there’s a good chance that Hatem Ben Arfa would be top of the poll, because on his day Ben Arfa is wonderful to watch, and of you go through some of the great goals he has scored for Newcastle over the last three years, you would come away thinking this lad was simply world-class.
Hatem Ben Arfa – an absolute darling among Newcastle fans
You want your best players playing in the top games against the top sides, and we have a very tough game on Saturday at home to Liverpool, who took us apart 6-0 in April
But while Hatem at his best is close to world-class going forward, he is not very good at defending, and in the first half at Everton, he was culpable for all three first half goals, and he simply wasn’t in position and didn’t track back to help Mathieu Debuchy defend Newcastle’s right hand side.
Former Newcastle player Tommy Cassidy has it about right when he had this to say about the Frenchman in the Chronicle today:
“Ben Arfa is one of those players who excites you every time he gets the ball – you expect something great to happen.” “On his day, he is the best player Newcastle have, no doubt.”
“He is the sort of player who won’t consistently get six or seven out of 10, he’ll be the kind of player who’ll get nine out 10 and then the next week he’ll get four out of ten.”
“That’s just the kind of player he is.” “He doesn’t like getting back and doing to dirty work defending, but going forward he is the one the crowd want to see.”
“Ben Arfa will win games for Newcastle United, and let’s hope he can continue that for the rest of the season because he was fantastic in the opening month.”
So against top sides Ben Arfa can be a liability because of his poor defending, and yet he can also be the match winner too – in those big games.
It’s certainly a big game on Saturday against the Reds, but we’d be surprised if Ben Arfa gets a start, and we think the team will be the one that did so well at Cardiff.
And the only change will be the fit again Steven Taylor or Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa in central defense to partner Mike Williamson, if Colo cannot make it because of his muscle injury.