Even if playing at his very best, Hatem Ben Arfa will always be a player who divides fans. At one end of the argument will already be those who have a constant loop going around their heads replaying his unbelievable goal against Blackburn in the cup, others will not….
The circumstances surrounding Ben Arfa’s signing were anything but ideal, coming in on loan we saw a wonder goal against Everton only for two minutes later Nigel De Jong to cripple him with that shocking challenge.
The permanent move was then sealed with the winger/midfielder still some six months away from full fitness, the club undoubtedly taking a risk on what they saw as a possible superstar at a knockdown price.
As players were sold last summer the weight of expectation aimed at Ben Arfa was totally unrealistic, with fans wanting to believe he would be our saviour as not many had any hopes of Cabaye and Ba providing the spark for a positive season.
Alan Pardew was this week asked by the Chronicle about his French enigma;
He isn’t out of the picture yet”.
The great thing now is that he isn’t our stand alone superstar, if he can sort himself out then he can be a massive bonus to Alan Pardew’s first eleven, rather than a hopeful saviour. We now have other players like Ba, Cabaye and new signing Cissé who fans will first look to for inspiration, that should only help the player to sort himself out and hopefully inspire him.
The stage is now set where potentially you could have a front five of Gutierrez, Tiote, Cabaye, Cissé and Ba lining up against Wolves on 25th February, with a space to be filled on the right hand side.
Ben Arfa hasn’t been a total flop this season as three cracking goals and two assists is a pretty decent contribution from somebody who has only started nine games in all competitions.
However, that is only scraping the surface with such a talented player, the perfect stage could now though be set up to showcase his talents and this time it will only be down to Hatem Ben Arfa if he fails to take the opportunity.