Ben Arfa responds well to Newcastle United axe

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HATEM Ben Arfa “accepted” his axe from the starting XI at Cardiff City – and the defensive role he was handed in the dying minutes.

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew left the forward and midfielder Vurnon Anita out of his starting XI on Saturday. Ben Arfa started from the bench after two anonymous performances.

And Pardew, under intense pressure before the match after successive Premier League defeats, was heartened by the reaction of Ben Arfa to his omission.

“It was a great day in terms of the team,” Pardew said. “The players who got left out accepted it and contributed to the win.

“It was nice to see Hatem come on. He’s growing up. I was pleased with his reaction this week.”

The game also saw winger Jonas Gutierrez make his comeback from a hamstring problem.

“It’s important that everybody’s pulling and trying to achieve the victory,” said Pardew.

“I asked Hatem to do a defensive job. I don’t think I’ve ever asked him to do that before. He saw it through, so it was good news.”