Hatem Ben Arfa is happy to take responsibility for winning games this season – as he claimed Newcastle can finish in the top five this term.
Ben Arfa’s magnificent goal capped a topsy-turvy personal performance which veered between the sublime and the ridiculous for Newcastle. His manager Alan Pardew said it was “dysfunctional”, but it also showed a fair amount of bravery from a player who accepts his position as the team’s match-winner.
He said: “We have good players but I also have to take responsibility because we can do good things, we have strong characters and big personalities in the team and good players who don’t have doubts. We hope to go top 10 or top five.
“We have proved we have good players because we score and we kept trying and that showed because we scored so late.”
It helps that Ben Arfa is finally over the injuries that have hampered him in the past.
He said: “I had a very big pre-season and everyone worked really hard. The more games I have the better I will be and now I just need games for match fitness. Last season was frustrating for me, I had a few injuries and didn’t play as much as I wanted towards the end because I couldn’t get that fitness. That is why pre-season was so important for me.”
Ben Arfa’s performance was a study in contradictions. At times he fired aimlessly into the crowd while at other points he looked to have the measure of the Fulham defence.
He admitted: “I try to score a special goal in every game. I am a winger and I have to try and shoot, but in the last game against West Ham I tried a lot but they all ended up in the sky. But I worked hard again today. I have been working hard in training all week for that moment.“
But I want to say that we are really happy with the win. We can now work for two weeks with a bit of serenity. I have been practising more with my left and I have two weeks now to work on my right.”
Luckily his fellow team-mates appreciate what a fine player they have among their ranks. He said: “Sometimes I make mistakes because I am not perfect and they will say to me, ‘I was free’ and I say, ‘next time I will pass to you’, but some times that is what I like to do.”