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Newcastle's best French star - Flatters to deceive

Hatem Ben Arfa found himself cut from the Newcastle line up against Chelsea, with questions asked over his recent performance are they warranted.

Hatem Ben Arfa has been called a ‘match winner’ in the past, but in the last couple of weeks he has found himself watching from the bench, including the game in their impressive 2-0 win over title favourites Chelsea.

The tricky French midfielder has always split opinion, regardless of whether it’s pundits, management or supporters his open and direct style of play can either be loved or loathed depending on which side of the fence you sit.

Alan Hansen, who is usually critical of players on Match of the Day responded to critics of Hatem Ben Arfa and praised his effort in trying to make things happen, even when they don’t come off.

Many other people will be frustrated at the French midfielder’s constant boom or bust attitude, very rarely will he look to take the ‘safe option’ and will use his ability to get round his man and create opportunities.

Statistically speaking, he is one of the best dribblers in the division contributing on average 2.8 successful dribbles per game, this puts him 7th out of all the players in the Premier League. The ability to get his shot off and try and make things happen is also within the top 20 out of all the Premier League players averaging 2.1 shots per game.

Defensively his record couldn’t be much worse, on average he has made less tackles per game than Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, which speaks volumes about his ability to dig deep for his side. The passing side of his game could also use some improvement, especially this season, where he is averaging less than 1 key pass a game, for an attacking midfielder that is incredibly poor, but despite that his long ball accuracy is relatively good for a wide-man.

It’s fair to say the French international will have to change his ways to get back into the team, and show an ability to work harder, but is that the boost he needs to get to the next level?

For me, the player’s ability is unquestionable, but will he ever be able to reach his obvious potential? Will he one day be considered a ‘top player’ or will the Frenchman keep flattering to deceive?

image: © mickyb59

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