There was a lot of news last week regarding Hatem Ben Arfa, who had not played since the Tottenham debacle, and it had been revealed last week that some Newcastle players thought that Hatem was a bit of a liability to the team when he played, because of his poor work rate, the fact he loses the ball in dangerous places on the pitch, and that he doesn’t track back enough to help out the team.
Ben Arfa – in action on Saturday
And it seems he had also lost some fitness since the Tottenham game, and while most of that about Hatem above could be true, he showed on Saturday that he is one of the few real match-winners that exist in the Newcastle squad – with another one – Loic Remy out injured and leaving Newcastle in the summer – and another one Yohan Cabaye having already left the club in January.
Hatem has not had a good season but he’s still got three goals and eight assists for the side in 26 appearances this season, and he won the game for Newcastle on Saturday ,against the hard-working and very well organized – but very lackluster and boring Crystal Palace side.
And certainly the Palace manager Tony Pulis would not have any use at all for a Ben Arfa in his side, the way his teams play the game with little or no creativity.
Hatem Ben Arfa’s future at Newcastle is certainly in question, but we should also remember that the French International, who turned 27 earlier in the month, has had recent problems with his family, and only last week went on a short compassionate leave, to visit his sick mother in France.
We have to hope that everything will turn out OK with his Mom, and the final eight games are now a great opportunity for Ben Arfa to show Alan Pardew that he can still be a match winner on Tyneside, and earn a new extended deal this summer.
He certainly made a good start last Saturday and he was the star man in the 31 minutes he was on the pitch, and his next opportunity is tomorrow night against Everton at home.