'Outstanding' Hatem Ben Arfa deserves France call

NEWCASTLE boss Alan Pardew called on France supremo Laurent Blanc to pick match-winner Hatem Ben Arfa for this summer's European Championships in Poland and Ukraine.

Hatem Ben Arfa celebrates after scoring against Bolton
Hatem Ben Arfa celebrates after scoring against Bolton

NEWCASTLE boss Alan Pardew called on France supremo Laurent Blanc to pick match-winner Hatem Ben Arfa for this summer's European Championships in Poland and Ukraine.

Ben Arfa scored a sublime solo goal of the highest quality to break the stalemate in Newcastle’s 2-0 victory over Bolton at St James’ Park, with Papiss Cisse also on target.

With 17 minutes left, Ben Arfa picked up a pass from fellow Frenchman Yohan Cabaye on halfway and proceeded to weave his way past four Bolton tacklers before entering the penalty area and coolly sliding the ball past visiting keeper Adam Bogdan.

To say it brought the house down would be an understatement, and Pardew believes that such skill and talent should be on display at Euro 2012.

He said: “As I’ve said before, I’ve been pushing the issue that he should definitely be part of the French squad.

“There are not a lot of players who can do that and the French manager (Laurent Blanc) needs to understand that.

“Not only did he get that goal today, he had a hand in the second and his workrate was just phenomenal.

“It was important (that Hatem bought in to the team ethic) because otherwise he wasn’t going to get a game.

“It’s not just about Hatem, it’s about the team and he understands that. His contribution to the team has been outstanding. This period that we’ve had, he’s been a very big part of it. I’m a lover of football. You don’t see many goals like that and I’ve been lucky to see two of them (referring to Ben Arfa’s goal against Blackburn in the FA Cup).

“It was truly a special goal. His first turn opened up the pitch a little bit and then his speed has taken him past one, then the second player and the last bit is probably the cleverest bit where he’s just lifted the ball which meant their centre-half couldn’t slide in.

“The finish was typical Hatem – he didn’t panic. It was truly outstanding. It’s going to get Premiership coverage and all the plaudits, and so it should for a goal of that quality.

“I’m sure it’s going to get highlighted all week as to how many players can score a goal like that.

“He actually should have done it again and he shouldn’t have passed (to Cisse) or he would have got himself a second goal.

“I don’t give him too much information offensively.

“Somebody like Hatem, you’ve got to let them have their world and it is his world when he has the ball. When he hasn’t had it, that’s when I focus on him.” With Tottenham’s surprise home defeat to Norwich yesterday, Newcastle’s victory has thrown them within touching distance of not only gaining European football for themselves next season but also a possible shot at the Champions League.

Pardew says that he hasn’t ruled such a thing out and should Liverpool – who have already qualified for Europe by winning the League Cup – beat Everton to reach the FA Cup final, Newcastle could well be going for the Champions League knowing full well at worst they’ll be in the Europa League next season.

He added: “I’ve never actually ruled it (Champions League) out. You guys keep saying me ‘are you going to make the Champions League?’ and I just keep saying we’re going out just to win our next game.

“I think this weekend will be important for us because if the semi-final results go our way, then I think we will be in Europe. If that works in our favour then really, there is nothing else there to go for.

“We’re up against Chelsea for this Champions League place. To not make Europe would be tough to take. You’ve got to keep your eye on the ball and we are not giving up on anything.”


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