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How Do You Solve A Problem Like Hatem Ben Arfa

7 years ago

I’d like to begin by making a sincere apology for the shameful ‘Sound of Music’ reference but for some inexplicable reason I had this song, with the substitution of Ben Arfa for Maria,bouncing around my head this morning. Unacceptable, I know, but it’s a question that worries me and one that Mr. Pardew needs to answer sooner rather than later.

Great win against Chelsea on Saturday. Living in exile in Dallas, Texas, for the last 20 years or so, I still struggle with 6:00 AM, 6:45 AM, and 9:00 AM kick offs, due to the six hour time difference. What a difference the occasional win makes to my weekend, especially getting up to watch at that time of day. As others have eloquently and correctly commented, several players who desperately needed big performances came up trumps at the weekend. Debuchy, Williamson, Mbiwa, Gouffran, and particularly Sissoko, to single out a few.

If you’d offered me four points from the three games against Liverpool, the Mackems, and Chelsea, I’d have taken your arm off. It was a great team performance on Saturday, pressing and harrying the big money Chelsea players whenever they were in possession and not giving them time to settle on the ball.

However, despite the result, despite the performance, despite the three points, I can’t help wishing that Ben Arfa had played.  I don’t know whether it’s the naïve, romantic Geordie in me who loves the enigmatic, game-changer, like Ginola, Asprilla, Gazza etc, but I want our best player to play in the big games.

No, I want him to play in EVERY game. In my opinion Ben Arfa is Newcastle’s most talented, exciting player. He’s the one that I’d pay the price of a ticket to watch if I was lucky enough to live back home in Bedlington.

I don’t have the answer and I’ll be interested to read the comments of others. I wrote last week about keeping Remy on the left but he did another good job down the middle. Shola shouldn’t be starting in the Premiership anymore and I can’t even start to put my finger on what’s up with Cisse. The harder he tries at the minute the worse he looks.

It won’t be too long until Fenwicks isn’t the most talked about window in Newcastle and the fat controller will once again have the chance to bring in another ‘purple’ center forward. Until then, I think I’d have Remy up the middle, the effervescent Gouffran on the left, and Ben Arfa, tricks and all, down the right.

I know that we will inevitably counter the threat of bigger teams by picking horses for courses. Boring! One thing’s for sure, having crawled out of bed on a Saturday or Sunday morning in Texas to watch the lads on NBC, my crunchy nut cornflakes and cuppa always taste better when number 10 is on the team sheet.



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