Will Ben Arfa’s return signal a different style of play for Newcastle?

Posted on September 22nd, 2011 | 16 Comments |

Ben Arfa keen for Premier League start.
Missing piece?
Newcastle United’s Hatem Ben Arfa is keen to get started with Premier League football after his appearance against Nottingham Forest in the Carling Cup on Tuesday. Alan Pardew won’t be rushing him back but could it be that the eventual return of Ben Arfa will signal a shift in the way the whole team plays?

Hatem Ben Arfa has played very few minutes of first team football for Newcastle since joining the club, yet an awful lot of expectation seems to surround the lad. It’s as if he’s the missing piece to some puzzle.

After playing against Nottingham Forest in the Carling Cup on Tuesday, Ben Arfa is now keen to get his first Premier League start of the season. Benny said:

All the year I worked so hard to come back and I’m very happy to be on the pitch now. I’m very happy to see the supporters again and I thank them for all the encouragement last year. I feel very good. I have confidence and I feel I will do very good things now.

I feel ready to play in every match now, in fact I’m dying to play.

But he may have to settle for a place on the bench first as Alan Pardew is keen not to rush the player back. Pardew said:

We all know that Hatem brings something special to the team.

But we don’t have to rush him.

Which hints to me that he won’t be in the starting XI for Saturday’s game against Blackburn and I reckon he might get 20 minutes or so at the end of the second half depending upon how we’re doing in the game in general.

What I’m still not sure about is his preferred position. His career tally is 27 goals and 19 assists in 184 games and in his early career at Lyon he played as a centre forward but it was the left wing position in a 4-3-3 setup that he eventually seemed to settle on.

You would think that with Ben Arfa on the left and Obertan on the right we’ll have to change our game plan a bit. Those are two players who can run with the ball and to make best use of them we need to play through our midfield instead of over it, which I think would also suit players like Yohan Cabaye.

But it’s risky. Alan Pardew has us in 4th thanks to a combination of a long ball game, a tough defence and a lot of determination, although we’re actually at home this weekend (for what seems like the first time in 184 years) and maybe that in itself calls for a different style of play in Pardew eyes.

Judging by the players we’ve bought this summer – and add into that the return to fitness of Ben Arfa – it just doesn’t seem like our original intent was to play the ‘hoof it’ style of game, so maybe Ben Arfa is indeed the missing piece that Pardew’s waiting for before he goes to a different style of play.

NUFCBlog Author: Hugh de Payen I'm a baby-boomer of the punk rock persuasion, currently exiled in Somerset for crimes committed in a previous life where locals keep trying to poison me with something called 'scrumpy'. Hates sprouts, coat-hangers, Cilla Black, ornaments, Steven Seagull movies and 50 Cent (he's not worth 10). Hugh de Payen has written 634 articles on this blog.

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16 Responses

  1. I see Arfa slotted as a second forward either with Best/Ba and Sylvain on LW and Jonas moved to the right. And with Yohan in the middle moving forward like he did. Not to mention Santon making those runs when playing with I Milan. I have seen on you tube. WowWW!! thats champagne football

  2. I think HBA’s best position is in ‘the hole’ (never been comfortable with that description…wonder why?) just playing behind a lone striker, linking up between the play.

  3. Yup the boy himself wants the No. 10 role and I’ve always thought a mobile, flexible front four is all that is needed to make 4-4-2 a thing of the past.

    Jonas/Obertan/Abeid HBA/Marveaux/Cabaye Marveaux/Jonas/Sammy/Fergie

    Plus a mobile dynamic striker but for now Best will have to do :(

  4. Cant wait to have Benny back! From what I saw of the highlights of tuesdays game his passing is still top notch and looks abit stockier than he did last year! Think marv deserves his place in the XI due to a great performance on tuesday too, but what to do with obertan or jonas? Obertan proved he does has have an end product with a cracking ball into collo and that has always been jonas’s one flaw. Up to pards to make that call but definitely expecting to still be unbeaten in 6 and hopefully a win against a dodgy looking blackburn team! HWTL!

  5. If only Ashley would agree to buy one ‘sooper dooper’ striker (Cisse?) with Ben Arfa behind and Marveaux in the mix along with Cabaye, Tiote and either Jonas or Obertan we could have a dynamic offensive.
    With Abeid, Vuckic, Best and Sami to also back up – things would really be looking good.
    Why is Ashley reluctant to go just that little bit further?

  6. HBA’s return is most welcome, the lad oozes class.
    Great to have him back. I think the ankle injury has probably helped him in a weird kinda way, as in it’s held him back a little & that’s probably allowed further healing of the left leg. Also it’s probably took his mind off of that.

    Obertan’s cross the other night was absolute A1 class, if that had been ashley young…et al…

    Looking forward to seeing a more expressive, through the mid field kinda play with HBA & Marveaux getting game time.

    Hey Hugh, how many ‘long ball’ goals have we scored this term so far?

  7. Andymac “but for now Best will have to do”
    He is doing! He has been given his chance and is taking it – against QPR he WAS mobile & dynamic & scored – what more can we ask? Give him a run in a 4-1-3-1-1 and I don’t think he’ll let us down.
    And I notice the injury list on the right, 2 more back next week, leaving only santon adrift (hope it doesn’t stretch further than 4 weeks!)
    – 2 years ago I would not have dreamed of a team like this
    – one year ago I expected a servicable 4-4-2 hoofing balls upto AC
    – now, well, who knows? exciting, modern football I hope, we could be the surprise team of the season!
    If nothing else we now have optimism instead of whinging, long may it last!


  8. Oh, and byetheway, I see its a home game.
    Yes, I remember home games, but its been so long can someone remind me where SJP is?

  9. I think we will start to play the ball on the ground (shock horror!) instead of aiming for the head of the now departed Carroll and the missing firing Ameobi as we have the players with the skill to play a passing game.

    I agree with you Bobby @ 1 that Ben Arfa should play behind the main striker (Best or Ba) with licence to roam free.

    Marveaux should also play on the left with either Obertan or Jonas on the right.

    I think the core creative heart of the team will be Cabaye, Marveaux and Ben Arfa. Tiote will be the sweeper behind the midfield protecting the defence. From what I have seen of Davide Santon with his surging runs he could become an additional attacking threat.

    Does anyone know what is Abeid best position. Is he more like Tiote or more like Cabaye?

  10. Kamar,

    i think Abeid is quite flexible across mid field mate, least he’s been reported as saying he’s happy to do so.

  11. Kamar says:

    “Does anyone know what is Abeid best position. Is he more like Tiote or more like Cabaye?”

    He’s listed as an an attacking midfielder (right footed) so you pays yer money and takes yer choice where he should play !

  12. Thanks Clint and Andy

    From what you say it looks like he could cover Tiote and Cabaye.

    I wonder whether Abeid has now gone up the pegging order ahead of Gosling and Guthrie after his mid-week performance. Listening to the match the two commentators were very impressed with him but not so Gosling.