ALAN Pardew is hopeful Hatem Ben Arfa has got a third wonder strike up his sleeve – at the stadium where he opened his Newcastle United account, writes Miles Starforth.
Ben Arfa will take on Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday buoyed by his first France call-up in almost two years.
The 25-year-old is hoping to shoot the club into the Champions League on the final day of the campaign, with the club needing a win to have any chance of ending the season in the top four of the Premier League.
Ben Arfa, yesterday named in Laurent Blanc’s preliminary Euro 2012 squad, has hit form in the second half of the season.
Pardew believes Ben Arfa – who scored Newcastle’s winner at Goodison Park last season – has scored two of the four best goals seen from a top-flight player this season.
Ben Arfa netted a superb FA Cup goal against Blackburn Rovers, and an equally-stunning strike against Bolton Wanderers last month, the forward running half the length of the pitch before rolling the ball past Adam Bogdan.
Also in Pardew’s top four was Papiss Demba Cisse’s goal against Chelsea last week.
“The only thing is Sky didn’t have the TV rights for Hatem Ben Arfa’s goal against Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup,” Pardew said.
“That would have been the top goal for me.
“Ben Arfa’s goal against Bolton Wanderers was third, so from my point of view we have had three out of the four best goals this season. You have to be pleased with that.”
Ben Arfa, still working his way to full fitness after his long spell on the sidelines last season with a double leg break, spent the first half of the season on the fringes at United.
However, since scoring against Blackburn in January, Ben Arfa has become an influential figure.
In recent games, Ben Arfa has been used on the right side of a three-man attack by Pardew, his form having earned his recall to the France squad.