Newcastle Utd star ‘accepted’ axe from Cardiff City win

Newcastle United's Hatem Ben Arfa
Newcastle United's Hatem Ben Arfa

HATEM Ben Arfa “accepted” his axe from the starting XI at Cardiff City – and the defensive role he was handed in the dying minutes.

Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew left the forward and midfielder Vurnon Anita out of his starting XI on Saturday.

Ben Arfa started from the bench after two anonymous performances, while Cheik Tiote was preferred to Anita in midfield given the need to stop the powerful Gary Medel dictating the game.

The controversial team selection paid off as Newcastle won 2-1 at the Cardiff City Stadium thanks to two goals from Loic Remy.

And Pardew, under intense pressure before the match after successive Premier League defeats, was heartened by the reaction of Ben Arfa to his omission.

“It was a great day in terms of the team,” Pardew said.

“The players who got left out accepted it and contributed to the win.

“It was nice to see Hatem come on. He’s growing up. I was pleased with his reaction this week.”

The game also saw winger Jonas Gutierrez make his comeback from a hamstring problem.

“It’s important that everybody’s pulling and trying to achieve the victory,” said Pardew, who asked Ben Arfa to perform defensive role.

“Jonas comes off the bench. We haven’t seen him for a while. He did a great little job for us.

“So did Hatem, which was even more important. I asked him to do a defensive job. I don’t think I’ve ever asked him to do that before. He saw it through, so it was good news.”