Ben Arfa makes his case for Newcastle start

POSITIVE DISPLAY ... Hatem Ben Arfa.
POSITIVE DISPLAY ... Hatem Ben Arfa.

HATEM Ben Arfa gave Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew a timely reminder of his talent against Southampton.

Ben Arfa is pushing for a start ahead of the club’s hectic run of Christmas and New Year fixtures, having last made the starting XI in late October.

The forward – who hit form early in the season and produced match-winning displays against Fulham and Aston Villa – came off the bench late in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Southampton.

And Pardew felt Ben Arfa helped his team regain the initiative for the last quarter of an hour.

Jay Rodriguez had cancelled out Yoan Gouffran’s first-half opener in the 65th minute.

And 26-year-old Ben Arfa – who made a series of runs into the visiting box after replacing Gouffran – almost forced a breakthrough.

“We almost forced a couple of chances,” Pardew told the Gazette.

“Hatem sort of weaved his way to the byline, but just couldn’t find the pass. He did very well after coming on.”

Pardew admits he was reluctant to take off Gouffran, who had scored for the fourth consecutive home game to take his goal tally for the season to six.

“Yoan was terrific,” said Pardew. “I was very reluctant to take him off, if I’m honest.

“But I just thought Hatem might open the door with a bit of individual flair.

“He did well when he came on, which is great for us. We’ve got those options. Gouff was terrific.”