HATEM Ben Arfa’s been labelled as Newcastle United’s “maverick” after his match-winning performance against Fulham.
The forward scored a stunning late goal to end the club’s 411-minute Premier League goal drought.
Ben Afa’s 18-yard strike gave Newcastle a deserved 1-0 win at St James’s Park.
After an evenly-contested first half, United found an attacking fluency after the break and went on to dominate their visitors.
But chance after chance went begging until debutant Loic Remy found the 26-year-old to the right of the box.
Challenged by two defenders, he cut inside and lashed an unstoppable shot past David Stockdale with his left foot.
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew admits he was frustrated with Ben Arfa, especially during the first half.
“I was pulling my hair out,” Pardew said. “I said ‘you’ve got to have a serious look at yourself, and stay disciplined’ at half time.
“I wanted him to stay on that side. He did, and he got his reward.
“He went down the line a couple of times and slipped it across.
“Then he stepped inside and bang - it was a goal the moment it left his foot. It was fantastic.”
While Ben Arfa doesn’t always follow his instructions on the field, Pardew wouldn’t have it any other way, such is the Frenchman’s natural ability on the ball in the final third of the pitch.
“That’s what he is - a maverick,” added Pardew.
“He drives me mad at times, probably drives our fans mad at times. But you’ve got to love him all the same.”