There was certainly a bit of hate’m surrounding non-owners of Ben Arfa over GW4. The flamboyant 26-year-old Frenchman tore Aston Villa apart as he took home a 13-point fantasy haul.
Much has been made of Newcastle’s decision to appoint Joe Kinnear as director of football with his bumbling reference to Cabaye as ‘Kebab’ and Ben Arfa as ‘Ben Afri’ being amongst the highlights. Off field, highlights aside, the football does the talking and boy did it ever. Newcastle stunk with a dire result at Manchester City (0-4) and a dull 0-0 draw with West Ham.
The Fulham game was heading in the same direction before a moment of brilliance from Ben Afra set the game alight. Following an international break Ben Arfa again took the reigns. Newcastle switched to a 4-3-3 system with the results speaking for themselves. Favorable tactics aside it is time to look into some of the numbers surrounding one of Pardew’s first Frenchman on Tyneside.
17 goal attempts for the Frenchman over the opening four GW’s coming in at a shot every 20 minutes on average. Only 3 chances have been created in this time at once every 116 minutes. If we compare this to the first 12 weeks of last season Ben Afra had 30 shots and 23 chances created. This indicates the marked increase in direct goal threat by the right-winger.
During the opening 12 gameweeks of last season Ben Arfa was almost presenting on the fantasy radar with tasty creation targets, great dribbling ability and a vicious shot. The lack of involvement was the only disappointment for the 7.0 asset. This season’s indication is that Ben Afra is at the heart of Newcastles attack. No longer in the wide supply channels for Ba in a more functional relationship with Remy, Gouffran and co the signs are positive for Hatem to take off this season.
Looking forward Ben Arfa has a tasty home game against the promoted Hull City followed by a couple of away games. Although tough on paper it does present opportunities for a strengthening Newcastle unit who we must remember finished 5th last time they didn’t have to consider the distractions of Europe.
Hull City (H)
International Break #2
The mid-priced bracket is starting to show an upside with Ramsey, Sigurdsson and even Swansea / Liverpool midfielder Shelvey bringing in the points. Ben Arfa (7.3) is at the pointy end of the mid-priced bracket but presents potentially the strongest option for the misfiring Mirallas (7.3) & chanceless Nolan (7.3).
A quick note on Newcastle:
Since the early season lull Newcastle has created 57 goal attempts (GW2-GW4) with 17 on target. They are behind only Arsenal and Spurs in these areas. Additionally they have conceded the fewest shots from open play (19). Very much a team on the up thanks to Ben Arfa’s efforts amongst others, keep your eyes peeled for value on Tyneside as the season progresses. Cheers.