Let's be honest. As long as he is healthy, for Newcastle United's purposes this position is called "Hatem Ben Arfa". Or Hatem Benafree if your name happens to be Bedo Fif. He of the tantalizing skills and sky high potential who can beat entire teams on a single run, make defenders leave their jock straps on the field as they look back bemused at the ball resting in the back of their net and all that.
Hatem Ben Arfa
The largest question with Ben Arfa is whether or not he can manage to stay healthy. The start of his health issues was not something of his own making. It was, of course, the smooth tackling stylings of Nigel "The Butcher" De Jong who broke the Toon player's leg in two places. Followed by the smooth tackling stylings of Roger Espinoza that damaged his ankle. Then it was a hamstring issue that would never really completely heal. The bottom line is that it's very hard to build up a lot of trust that he will be in the lineup on a consistent basis. But:
Despite his propensity for going invisible for large stretches of matches, the times that he exerts himself are so soo special that it makes it worth having him on the pitch. Additionally, when you've got Mathieu Debuchy willing to pick up where you might miss Ben Arfa on some of his forays into a more central position and provide width in the attack, you're still in decent stead. Beyond his electric skills and attacking prowess, there's very little that Alan Pardew seems to trust behind him with regards to the squad.
Rather like the situation with Mathieu Debuchy at RB, an injury to HBA will likely lead to multiple moves - the first potentially being to shift Jonas Gutierrez across from the left to the right. Although he has largely seemed to lack the attacking skill that he exhibited in younger days following the 11/12 season where he was frequently asked to help on the defensive end with Ryan Taylor and a young Davide Santon. You know that you're going to get an honest shift from Jonas one way or the other and in spite of popular opinion in the fan base, Pardew still looks ready to rely heavily upon the Argentine who until so recently (when he retired it) was known as Spiderman.
What's that you say? Moussa is a central midfielder? He's not a right wing at all? Well... that's what we all are saying... yet if the preseason is any indication (which it's really not, right Romain Amalfitano?), Alan Pardew has at least some idea that he will be able to employ the January purchase in just that position. I don't even really want to consider this any more, so we'll move on to the next possibility.
Once purchased by Manchester United, alumn of the prestigious Clairefontaine Academy in France and still only 24 years old, Obertan has not been able to hold down a regular place since his move to England. In the absence of Hatem Ben Arfa at the beginning of the 11/12 season, he did get a series of starts (in which the club went on an amazing run of undefeatedness), but when Ben Arfa returned to health, he was sat back on the bench and has pretty much been there ever since. Although he possesses decent pace, he tends to get lost in the final third on the wing - unable to cross as effectively as you might hope for. Frankly, I believe that there are better uses for Gaby... but what do I know?
In the very early stages of the 11/12 preseason, Amalfitano saw some run out at a RW position and looked pretty effective. Alan Pardew might... barhrhrhahahahahahahaha. Um yeah. I'm not sure why we're still paying him.
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