Think about this very simply. If Ben Arfa played for Chelsea, Arsenal or Manchester City, would they play him in a 4-4-2 formation asking him to track back as much as possible to cover the full back? Would they hell. Why? Because it would be a total waste of his talents and would drag him back into areas he just shouldn't be in. With a player as skillful as Ben Arfa you need him in the final third at all times. Whether you have the ball or not.
The reason I use the 3 teams I have is because they have their own 'Ben Arfa' to speak of. Chelsea have Hazard/Mata (take your pick), Arsenal have Cazorla and Citeh have David Silva. These players play in a very specific place for these teams. In the hole 'Number 10' role or as an inside forward cutting in from the flank driving at goal. Within a formation of either 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1. This is the modern way. This system is that of the 21st century. Any other isn't even contemplated given the way these teams want to play and the players they have in their squads. And rightly so. Can you ever imagine Chelsea playing a flat 4-4-2 with Hazard on the wing spending half of his time chasing back to cover his full back? The thought is laughable. If a manager at Chelsea even tried this he would be up for the sack immediately. The same can be said for Arsenal and Man City. Although Man City like 2 strikers on the pitch, it is far from a flat narrow 4-4-2. They always make room for Silva whenever he is available. These players are the difference makers and NUFC have one of the best in Europe.
Premier League Player Statistics
|1||Hatem Ben Arfa||Newcastle United||AM(CLR)||11||2||2||2.1||1.5||4.9||1.6||-||3.5||2||7.17|
|4||Adel Taarabt||Queens Park Ran...||AM(CL)||6(1)||2||-||4.3||2.7||2.7||2.4||-||1.1||1.1||7.3|
|5||Samba Diakité||Queens Park Ran...||D(R),DM(C)||6(1)||-||-||0.9||0.7||2.6||2||-||1||1.3||6.53|
|6||Davide Santon||Newcastle United||D(LR)||11||-||-||0.4||1||2.2||1.7||0.2||0.7||0.8||7|
|10||Mohamed Diamé||West Ham||DM(C)||11||1||-||1.2||0.5||1.8||1.3||-||2.6||1.5||7.06|
(Ben Arfa has the most successful dribbles in the Premier League by some distance with 4.9. He has actually dribbled past 54 players in total, which is 18 more than his closest rival in Suarez.)
So with this in mind, why does Alan Pardew do it here at Newcastle? Why? What possible reason could he have to waste a player like Ben Arfa by playing him in a flat 4-4-2 which requires him to a) cover his full back, b) drop far too deep to receive the ball and c) spend most of his time tied to the wing. It's ridiculous. The only reason a manager would do this is if he just didn't have the squad to play any other way but 4-4-2. Alan Pardew is not in this position. Not only does he have Ben Arfa but he has Yohan Cabaye. A creative midfielder who also likes to put his foot in. He has Cheik Tiote. A midfield rock who makes most supposedly defensive midfielders look like fairies. He has Demba Ba. A striker who is capable of playing up front on his own or as an inside forward on the left who drives at goal. He has Papiss Cisse. A centre forward who thrives off being alone up front to make his runs and score unbelievable goals. Alan Pardew has the squad to match any of the bigger boys in terms of formation, tactics and strategy, so why doesn't he do it? What's he so afraid of? I have asked the question of whether Alan Pardew is a little bit out of his depth at our football club at its present status as a European club? Is-Pardew-out-of-his-depth? So far this season I am seeing nothing to suggest otherwise.
(Remember This Alan?)
What is baffling about our season so far is that for a stage last season the LMA manager of the year Alan Pardew seemed to have cracked it. We all sat back after destroying West Brom in 20 mins on a Super Sunday back in March in amazement. Pardew introduced a system of 4-3-3 that got the best out of every single attacking player in the team without harming our defence. It was perfect. He carried this on into the next two games where we beat Swansea and Liverpool easily, both with clean sheets. This new formation helped us go on a 6 game winning streak as we seriously pushed for a Champions League spot. But then something changed. Something happened that made Pardew ditch this system and go back to 4-4-2. Since we beat Stoke City 3-0 with ease at home on the 21st April, not once has Newcastle United started a game with the same line-up man for man, position for position. With no official explanation whatsoever. I don't know what the local journalists have been doing since then but has any of them actually asked Pardew why he has done this? I don't see any answers anywhere. I mean how useless are they? We want answers as we are a shadow of the side we once were. It's unacceptable.
(This is Ben Arfa's hotspot areas of where he took on an opponent. Hardly any are in the final third)
In order for us to compete with the bigger boys in this division we need to at least start thinking like them. We need to at least start playing like them. In my opinion we have better players in specific positions then they do, so not only could we compete with them in my eyes, we could beat them. Is Jon Obi Mikel better than Cheik Tiote? Is Oliver Giroud better than Demba Ba? Is Samir Nasri better than Yohan Cabaye? Not in my eyes. Plus the exciting difference maker players that we love to watch play the game in Eden Hazard, Santi Cazorla and David Silva. Are they better than Hatem Ben Arfa? Can they dribble like him? Can they take out 3/4 players at a go like him? Can they smash one in the top corner with either foot from 25 yards like him? I don't think so. I wouldn't swap Ben Arfa for any of them. It's also been announced that Benny's goal against Blackburn in the FA Cup is nominated for the FIFA Puskas Goal Of The Year Award, alongside Messi and Neymar. No surprises there. It's got my vote and you can vote for it yourself here: Puskas Award Nominees
If you just watch the skills versus West Ham below, it's another incredible example of Ben Arfa's quality. How many players in the world have the ability to ghost past players like him? It's a rare quality that needs to be maximised. However, also note how deep his is on the pitch at times. He's fighting a losing battle. You never see the bigger boys 'Number 10' this far back. We need to get him in the final third a lot more. At present his untouchable genius is being totally wasted. Observe.
We have the players. We have the squad. We have the 'ace in the hole' in Hatem Ben Arfa. We had the manager last season and we need him back. Where has the Premier League manager of the year gone? A ship no matter how impressive, is still doomed without a competent captain.
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