Newcastle Utd to keep Southampton guessing over Ben Arfa

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

HATEM Ben Arfa has added another dimension to Newcastle United this season – from the bench!

The forward hasn’t started a Premier League game since late October.

Instead, Ben Arfa has found himself among the substitutes.

United manager Alan Pardew – whose side take on Southampton at St James’s Park tomorrow – has been able to name strong benches during the club’s run of five wins in six Premier League games.

And Pardew feels the quality he has had alongside him in the dugout has told on the field.

Ben Arfa came off the bench in last weekend’s 1-0 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford and helped relieve the pressure on Newcastle’s back four.

Pardew will make one enforced change – influential midfielder Yohan Cabaye is suspended – but he is keeping Southampton guessing as to which way he will go with his team selection.

“Southampton will be trying to second-guess what I’ll do,” Pardew said.

“Whether they get it right, we’ll have to see.

“But certainly, the option I do have is to change it if it’s not going well to a different way.

“That’s always nice for a club to have.

“Some teams are very one dimensional, so if it doesn’t work, there is nowhere to go.

“But I think we’ve got at least two or three ways of going about a victory.

“I can change it quite quickly.”

Striker Papiss Demba Cisse, last season’s leading scorer, has also been named as a substitute in recent weeks.

And long-serving Steven Taylor is yet to make the bench since returning to fitness last month.