ALAN Pardew says he left Hatem Ben Arfa out of his Newcastle United starting XI – as Moussa Sissoko has given his side wings.
Ben Arfa was an unused substitute in last weekend’s 2-0 home win over Chelsea.
And he could again be a substitute for Sunday’s game against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane.
United manager Pardew started Sissoko – who is more used to playing as a No10, or through the middle – on the right side of his midfield for the Chelsea game.
Pardew had deployed Sissoko out wide in last week’s Capital One Cup defeat to Manchester City.
And he felt the 24-year-old’s performance in that game, which was decided in extra time, had forced his hand, and he reluctantly left the creative talent and vision of Ben Arfa on the bench.
Asked if it was a tough decision to leave out Ben Arfa, Pardew told the Gazette: “It was, because he’s a quality player.
“But I couldn’t turn a blind to the work Moussa did in the week in those wide areas. He did it again and put in a real shift with quality.”
Newcastle beat Chelsea 2-0 thanks to second-half goals from Yoan Gouffran and Loic Remy.
With more than an hour of the game gone and the score still goalless, Pardew was about to turn to Ben Arfa, who was warming up on the touchline.
However, Gouffran’s 68th-minute headed goal changed the course of the game.
And Pardew instead threw on Gabriel Obertan, involved in the build-up to Remy’s late strike, in the dying minutes.
“Hatem is a player we know can change a game,” added Pardew.
“That game was made for Hatem, at 0-0, if we hadn’t of scored.
“But we scored the goal just as I thought about putting him on.”
Ben Arfa hit form earlier in the season, and won praise from Pardew.
He scored in the wins over Aston Villa and Fulham, but was dropped at Cardiff City last month.