ALAN Pardew believes keeping Hatem Ben Arfa ‘focused’ is the key to getting the best out of the mercurial forward.
Ben Arfa was at his brilliant best in the 2-1 win over Aston Villa at the weekend, scoring one and setting up the winner for Yoan Gouffran.
The Frenchman has started the season on top form, being arguably Newcastle’s best outfield player in the season opener at Manchester City, which ended in a 4-0 defeat, and scoring a stunning goal to give United all three points againts Fulham.
He took his performance on to a new level at Villa Park, and the winger seems to have shaken off his problems from last season, where his form and fitness after his return from injury was below the standards he has previously set since his move from Paris St Germain.
Pardew knows he has a unique talent in his squad with Ben Arfa, but admits the player hasn’t always been the easiest to manage.
However, he believes the 26-year-old is currently in good shape both mentally and physically, and if he stays in that state then he can rip Premier League defences to shreds.
“We’ve got him in a good place,” said Pardew. “He’s not easy to manage.
“His focus is sometimes not always there as it should be.”
Ben Arfa received a multitude of praise after the Fulham game, in which his late screamer gained a first league win of the season for Newcastle.
Pardew belives some of the hype wasn’t justified after that game, but that any plaudits that come the attacker’s way after Saturday’s performance are thoroughly deserved.
He added: “I thought the plaudits (after Fulham) were a little bit over the top, as we tend to do.
“I don’t care what you say, they won’t be over the top (now). He was unbelievable (against Villa).
“If we can do that and keep him fit and focused like that, we’ve got a player who can change the destiny of any Premier League game.”