Pardew hails Ben Arfa’s craft and graft

IN FORM ... Hatem Ben Arfa, left.
IN FORM ... Hatem Ben Arfa, left.

HATEM Ben Arfa can help Newcastle United back into Europe with his goals – and graft.

The forward netted his fourth goal of the season on his return to the starting XI at the Emirates Stadium on Monday night.

Sixth-placed Newcastle went on to lose the Premier League clash 2-1, but they remain in contention for a Europa League place.

And Pardew – whose side entertain Norwich City on Sunday – was delighted with his overall contribution, not just his eye-catching goal.

“It was a great goal, and his workrate was terrific – you have to say that,” Pardew told the Gazette.

“I can’t fault him – I thought it was terrific.”

The lead was short-lived, with Robin van Persie levelling less than a minute later.

And Thomas Vermaelen netted an injury-time winner for Arsene Wenger’s side to all but end the club’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League next season.

Ben Arfa’s performance on the right side of a five-man midfield was one of the positives Pardew took from the game. The 24-year-old was asked earlier in the season to up his workrate.

And Pardew felt he did little wrong over the 90 minutes, and Ben Arfa seems certain to start against Paul Lambert’s attack-minded side.

The goal underlined why Wenger labelled the France international one of his country’s most gifted players in his programme notes before the game.

“It was just a quick shot,” said Pardew.

“If a player takes a quick, early shot like that, the keeper ain’t set.

“It was a good goal. He had a chance in the second half right near the end, and I thought he was going to do it again. He just took it across the box.

“He’s got that in him – he can win games from nothing.”

Twitter: @milesstarforth