Yesterday we brought you the news that Hatem Ben Arfa had launched his very own website, the content currently only in French but an English option arriving soon.

Writing on his website, Ben Arfa has talked at length about his life in England and discusses red meat, pubs, St.James’ Park, autograph hunters, timing of meals and the press!

It is great to see a player coming through the tough times and then feeling able to express himself both on and off the pitch, a marked contrast to the at times lonely figure we saw making fleeting appearances earlier this season.

The world is quite literally his oyster…in the colours of Newcastle United! (Once more we are yet again indebted to ‘Pierre’ for the translation services)

I Feel Good In Angleterre

The first time I arrived in Newcastle in northern England, I thought, “Me, the Mediterranean, I could never adjust to a city as grey and cold.” Then when I started to live here, I realised that the most important was not necessarily based on first impression.  Eighteen months on, this country and this city, I’m starting to really be a fan!

For those who find it difficult to locate on the map, Newcastle is the second city (after Sunderland), in the north of England, located 1 hour from the Scottish border. Moreover if there is a match not to miss in the season, the derby “St.James’ Park” against the “Black Cats” (nickname of the team Sunderland). The city is very student orientated, with a very busy shopping centre and also full of cultural centres (including the magnificent “Theatre Royal”) and lots of places to party. Here, if you do not like the atmosphere of the pubs, you might as well leave the town! The city must have at least five hundred of them. The English pub, there is no real equivalent in France, you stay there for hours, drinking, eating, chatting, playing games and reliving the matches  again …

On the culinary side, me who is a lover of good red meat, I am still struggling to find my feet. The English are very fond of chicken they eat it with in every possible sauce, be it (ketchup, curry …). Meals are eaten much earlier tha in France (they eat between 18:00 – 19:00) and lunch is just something very basic.

In the street, the English are much more “natural” than the French. Their look is much more relaxed and uninhibited than in France. Especially, I envy them to not feel the cold!

What I realised in discussions, it is the absence of taboo subjects. For example, you do not shock anyone by talking openly about money or health. Another point, the person you are speaking with is listening to you unlike in France. However, to be well understood and to really understand it is best to learn English because few people here make the effort to learn a foreign language.

In the street, when people seek an autograph or a picture, it’s always with extreme politeness and friendliness. Even if you don’t always do it, they accept it with dignity and move on with an apology. On the whole you are forgiven everything as long as “you do the job” on the pitch.

Here, the press is everywhere; there must be ten times as many newspapers and magazines than in France. The English buy them by the kilo and you can also read them for free in any pub. The hate of the players is to be found mentioned in the tabloids, with their limited methods. Your career may suffer suddenly and your image destroyed.

In the club, the relationship with the manager is closer and more transparent than in France. It’s very cool yet very professional. Your manager naturally is owed respect and no one would go against his authority. In this “club culture” any disobedience or misbehaviour  will be fined!

alreet 5pts

I think either perez or aarons will start against arsenal. We have to have thauvin right and mitro up. Id plant tiote colback and wijnaldum in the middle. We have to use the wingers and get the ball to them early.

Virsino 5pts

@alreet IMO Tiote has done nothing to deserve a place in the team. I think you may see Anita and Sissoko in there with Colback under pressure for his place.

I think Aarons won't play because Perez showed all the wingers how bad he wants to play in this team with his tracking back and tackling/blocking against Manure. He'll take a bit of shifting from the team based on last week.

I think Thauvin out right is the natural selection.

So, in summary,


Janmaat   S.Taylor    Coloccini   Haidara

                  Anita     Sissoko

Thauvin           Wijinaldum             Perez


Virsino 5pts

Holy Catfish - I forgot about Mbemba

Too many options!!!

desree 5pts

I wouldn't change a defence that kept a clean sheet at old trafford, janmaat doesn't deserve to come straight back in and competing to get back might make him think twice about his dispiline.

I would like to see a midfield 5 of

sissoko anita perez Wijnaldum thauvin

perez and wijnaldum rotating the 10 spot and giving us an option to go 4, 4, 2 with Perez supporting Mitrovic.

Hetton Mag
Hetton Mag 5pts

I thought Perez was outstanding at Manu. Great football brain, tricky, skilfull and hard working, tracking back and making a couple of excellent tackles. On that performance he would be an ever present for me. Still not sure about Mitro, new shearer, new McDonald no he looks like the new billy white hurst to me. I'm still stunned at the transformation of Anita . Expect McLaren to go for 2 holding midfielders. Wow such choices he has! Colo always plays better with Taylor beside him, apart from injury record I've always thought Taylor to be a decent player, he doesn't deserve the stick he gets re performance, public statements different matter. Bloody hell Im looking fwd to a game.

stepaylor 5pts

With thauvin and aarons playing wide and mitrovic up front, wijnaldum and sissoko box to box and either colback, tiote or anita holding we have a strong side with exciting young talent. If colocinni stays on form and creates a solid partnership with mbemba. The only weakish link may be haidara but he has the potential to be a top player. Has the pace and work ethic needed, just his touch and decision making need time.

With taylor, tiote, anita, de jong, cisse and perez not able to get into my first 11 it shows we have the best squad we have had in years. With armstrong, gillead, heardman, roberts, gihlespy, sterry and woodman coming through we have a great foundation of young players. Only cisse, colocinni and tiote in the whole squad will need replacing over the next 2 yrs and if that change is an improvement in quality then the future will be bright.

Mal44 5pts

@stepaylor  ''Only cisse, colocinni and tiote in the whole squad will need replacing over the next 2 yrs and if that change is an improvement in quality then the future will be bright''.

Given that the contracts of Williamson, Obertan, Taylor and Marveaux are up next year (plus Elliott, Vuckic and Ferguson who are more peripheral squad members), I think there will be more than the three you mention. But as you say the future is beginning to look brighter - still worried about the current depth of our defence though, especially when injuries and suspensions kick in.

stepaylor 5pts

Yeah i didnt include any of them apart from taylor in my first post as i assume they wont be around anyway. Taylor is likley to have his deal extended, on current form good value but with his injury record we have to wonder whether 40k a week can be better spent. I like having local lads in the squad and i think his personality is good for the group so i would give him a 3 yr deal

Mal44 5pts

@stepaylor  I was surprised by Taylors performance last week; he was excellent and showed some maturity which has been sadly lacking in the past. I hope it continues as a lack of consistency has always been his problem. He'll be fighting for a new contract so fingers crossed that he has a really good season.

DomUniqu3 5pts

Need to keep Perez in I think he's an asset to the team, best player last year imo

george8783 5pts

picked Alexander Mitrovic up for training today 

what a level headed young man he is 

a new hero in the making 

speaks english very well has his family with him 

looks much fitter than 3 weeks ago

and he has shown he does not have to get booked to frighten the premier league defenders his presence will create chances and he should score plenty 

good luck tomorrow 

DanH87 5pts

What is this 1998? There isn't a single team in the PL that plays two strikers anymore. Mitrovic to me is the epitome of the modern PL striker and if we are to have any chance of success this season he has to start every game he can. Forget about Cisse. 

Kazie23 5pts

Uhm...City played with two strikers last season

alreet 5pts

Need to keep cisse as a sub. He can still put em away. New era though. No more reliance on gouffran ameobi and colback to get the goals.

JohnEllis2 5pts

We have to find a starting place for young arrons his pace and eye for goal is scary

Kazie23 5pts

I know...And Ayoze perez

wor monga
wor monga 5pts

There’s plenty of time for all eventualities to occur over the length of the season…Cisse and Perez will play a major part, but the main thing now is converting the work we’ve done into a win…preferably at home against Arsenal…that must be the total motivation for the team, and nothing but that!!!