HATEM Ben Arfa’s been backed to take the game to Manchester United at St James’s Park tomorrow.
The 25-year-old, outstanding so far this season, was an unused substitute, along with top-scorer Demba Ba, when Pardew’s team beat Bordeaux 3-0 in the Europa League on Thursday night.
And Ben Arfa’s legs – and mind – will be ready for the game.
“You need fresh legs for Man United – and bright minds,” Pardew told the Gazette.
“It’s bright minds more than legs – they’ll be sharp in the mind, and that’ll be important.
“Hatem will relish this game – he loves these games. He’s got ability that matches anyone in Man United, and I don’t say that lightly.”
However, Pardew will be without first-choice centre-halves Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini, both sidelined through injury.
James Perch and Mike Williamson will again deputise.
“They’ve played more minutes than everyone else, Perchie and Willo,” said Pardew. “The only thing that worries me a little bit is fatigue, not ability.
“Having said that, they were brilliant against Bordeaux. At the end of the game, we had a chance to rest, which was important. They didn’t have 20 minutes of bombshells in the box.
“They’ll be fresh for this one, and they need to be. They’re up against the best strikeforce in the league.”