HATEM Ben Arfa’s been backed to give Sundeland’s defenders an early Halloween fright at the Stadium of Light, writes MILES STARFORTH.
The forward could again lead the line for Newcastle United in tomorrow’s Wear-Tyne derby.
Ben Arfa was used as a withdrawn “false No9” striker in last weekend’s 2-2 draw against Liverpool.
And United manager Alan Pardew is considering using the same formation in the 149th meeting between the two great rivals.
He is keen to bring the pace of Ben Arfa – and in-form Loic Remy – to bear on the home defence in the fixture.
“If Hatem gets that role, we know if we can get him the ball, he can cause problems for Sunderland’s centre-halves,” Pardew said.
“If he’s running at you, and he’s coming down the middle of the pitch, you’re in trouble.
“If he plays, we’ve got to get enough of the ball to him.
“It’s a difficult system. But we played it very well against Liverpool.
“Whether we can play like that in a derby is another matter.
“Certainly, we’ve got good pace in the team, and that can hurt any team.”
Pardew and his squad will stay at a hotel tonight ahead of the derby.
“There are a couple of things we do differently,” said Pardew.
“We stay in a hotel, even though it’s only just down the road.
“We treat like any other awayday.
“We also do a couple of other things we think will help the lads be calm, or raise the temperature.
“We have a couple of things ready.”
Meanwhile, Jonas Gutierrez won’t be involved for United.
The winger – who missed the Liverpool game – remains in Argentina on “personal leave”.
“He is still on personal leave,” said Pardew.