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Ben Arfa: Fan backing helped

Hatem Ben Arfa is grateful for the support he received from Newcastle United fans during his time stuck on the bench.

Last Updated: 27/12/13 at 09:53 Post Comment

Hatem Ben Arfa: Has had to be patient in his pursuit of a starting berth

Hatem Ben Arfa: Has had to be patient in his pursuit of a starting berth

The Frenchman accepts that the strength in depth which now exists at St James' Park means he will not start every week.

He has no complaints at filling a squad role, with the collective cause of greater importance than individual ambitions.

Ben Arfa has had to be patient in his pursuit of recognition, though, with a 5-1 victory over Stoke City on Boxing Day seeing him drafted back into Alan Pardew's starting XI for the first time in almost two months.

The highly-rated forward grabbed his opportunity with both hands and believes he is a stronger player - mentally and physically - for having spent a spell on the sidelines.

Ben Arfa said in the Shields Gazette: "We're very happy. We won, which is the most important thing.

"And I was very happy to be on the pitch. I hadn't started for two months, and I gave all my energy.

"Every time I came on, I tried to do my best. The crowd supported me when I was on the bench, and that made me stronger.

"I want to say thank you to them. Even when I was on the bench, they supported me. They give you confidence and strength.

"I'm very happy, but the most important thing was that we won."

On the competition for places at Newcastle, he added: "We have a big squad. We have very good players on the bench and on the pitch. That's very important for us.

"Everybody contributes. The spirit is important. When somebody is on the bench, he still motivates us in the dressing room. Everybody is together."

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ow are people still backing Arsenal for the title? It's like you're predicting the tide not to come in; Arsenal will finish third or fourth and make the quarter final of the Champions League. It was ever thus.

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othing screams 'Panic!!' when your new manager brings Fellaini on as a sub for your star signing of the summer and within 5 minutes you concede the winner. I know it is only the first game in but I would seriously be sh1**ng myself I was a Man Utd supporter. This has the potential of being very nasty indeed.

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n the words of Pete Townsend, meet the new boss, the same as the old boss. Though I would comment that it's 3 more points than we picked up in the same fixture last year, so that's a 100% improvement.

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