Newcastle Ben Arfa will have to wait for Euro debut

IN-FORM ... Hatem Ben Arfa has shone for Newcastle this season.
IN-FORM ... Hatem Ben Arfa has shone for Newcastle this season.

ALAN Pardew’s likely to resist the temptation to pitch Hatem Ben Arfa into tonight’s game against Maritimo – despite the pressing need for a win.

Ben Arfa’s yet to make an appearance for Newcastle United in the Europa League this season.

While Pardew’s side – who have suffered back to back home defeats in the Premier League – are in desperate need of a morale-boosting win, Ben Arfa’s set to be kept fresh for Sunday’s game at Southampton.

Pardew feels his domestic form is, in part, down to his non-involvement in Europe.

And the 25-year-old – who has been the club’s main attacking threat – is only likely to be pitched in once the competition reaches the knockout stages.

“If we had a fans’ vote, he’d probably be our player of the season so far,” Pardew told the Gazette.

“That might be because he’s sat all these games out. That might have something to do with it.”

Meanwhile, Pardew has expressed his astonishment at Chelsea counterpart Roberto di Matteo’s departure just six months after winning the Champions League.

Di Matteo’s eventful reign drew to a close yesterday in the wake of Tuesday night’s 3-0 defeat by Juventus in Turin which left the club fighting to qualify for the knockout stages of this season’s competition.

Pardew said: “I’m astonished, really.

“It just goes to show you how precarious we are as Premier League managers, and you can’t take anything for granted.

“The shock that should be there for the fans and the media should sound something to the owner of that football club, because I don’t know if that’s the ninth manager or whatever it is in so many short years.

“It’s just not fair. As far as I am concerned, he has done absolutely nothing wrong.

“His philosophy was to perhaps change the look of the team, which he has tried to do – that doesn’t happen overnight – and he’s won two competitions in less than a year, so it’s unbelievable.

“He should walk straight into another job.”