Newcastle United’s Alan Pardew wants Ben Arfa drive
HATEM Ben Arfa will come into a “different” Newcastle team – if he makes his comeback from injury tonight.
Ben Arfa has a chance of featuring against Fulham at Craven Cottage.
The forward, arguably the Magpies’ player of the season so far, has spent the last three weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring problem.
Newcastle ended a four-game losing run in the Premier League a week ago with a convincing 3-0 victory over Wigan.
And the “resilience” on show that night is here to stay, according to manager Alan Pardew.
“We’ve put a new resilience in the team,” Pardew said.
“I don’t care if Hatem’s fit or not, he needs to come in and understand there’s a different look to the team.
“The team’s got a little bit more drive in it, a little bit more energy.
“He needs to bring that in if he comes in against Fulham, or Manchester City (on Saturday). We’re not far away from being a good side.”
While Ben Arfa has shone for Newcastle, striker Dimitar Berbatov has netted five goals for 13th-placed Fulham, level on points with the Tynesiders.
“They’ve been hot and cold,” said Pardew, whose side were beaten 5-2 at Craven Cottage last season.
“We’ve had Hatem, and their outstanding player is Berbatov. He’s been terrific, and we’re going to need to make sure he doesn’t have a big influence on the game.
“They’ve got good pros. I’ve been to see Fulham a lot. They were on my doorstep when I was working in London.
“They’re very difficult at home. They’ve got a nice rhythm, and their fans don’t give them too much of a hard time.
“They can play poorly, and the fans will stay with them. You have to concentrate for 90 minutes at their place.”
Meanwhile, Pardew – whose side lost 2-0 at Bordeaux on Thursday night in the Europa League – is grateful for the extra day’s preparation the TV scheduling has given him.
He said: “That extra day is massive – huge. My stats tell me everything I need to know about my players. They can’t physically reach that level with two and a half days rest.”
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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