HATEM Ben Arfa’s confident Newcastle United will be back competing at the top end of the Premier League next season.
Ben Arfa was on target from the penalty spot in Sunday’s 2-1 win over Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road.
The result finally secured the club’s top-flight status after a season-long battle against relegation.
And Newcastle will now look to end what was been a bitterly disappointing season on a high against Arsenal at St James’s Park on Sunday before a summer of rebuilding.
United manager Alan Pardew has been without Ben Arfa for a significant part of the season because of injury.
And the 26-year-old, pictured, linked with a summer move away from St James’s Park, has backed Pardew’s assertion that injuries have been a factor in the club’s struggles.
“When you look at our team, and the individuals on the squad list, we have a great side,” said Ben Arfa, an influential figure in the team’s run to a fifth-placed finish last season.
“We have very good players, but this season we haven’t had any luck with injuries.
“We haven’t been able to play our strongest team. Once everyone is fit, we can do really well.
“Hopefully, we can have a season like last season and finish in the top five.”
Ben Arfa’s career on Tyneside has been blighted by a series of injuries, and the past few months have been frustrating for the Paris-born player, who suffered a hamstring problem in November.
And he’s just relieved to have been able to part his part in the club’s survival bid after returning to fitness last month.
“All I’ve wanted is to be fully fit and help the team do well,” said Ben Arfa. “We wanted to stay up, and we’ve done that.”
Meanwhile, Pardew was at the Emirates Stadium last night to run the rule over Arsenal, who faced FA Cup winners Wigan Athletic.