Ben Arfa wants silverware
Newcastle United’s Hatem Ben Arfa has said he sees a bright future for his side after their January signings and feels his team can compete for the Europa League this season, starting against today’s opponents Anzhi Makhachkala.
The French winger believes Newcastle showed a lot of ambition in January, and now believes the Magpies are in a place to compete for honours this season.
Ben Arfa had said in January he would have to consider his options if Newcastle didn’t bolster their side with signings and the Geordies responded, bringing in players such as Moussa Sissoko and Mathieu Debuchy.
And now the Frenchman has his entire focus on Newcastle and winning his way back into the national side.
Ben Arfa has been highly encouraged by Newcastle’s January dealings.
He told the Mirror: “I am very happy now. They are very good players and they will really strengthen our team.
“I was in France when the players were signing. I was pleased because they are good players not just because they are French.
“We have a stronger team now than we had before January. The ambition is to come back very strong and finish the season strong.
“I want to be at my best until the end of the season and that is my ambition at the moment. My first ambition is to win against Anzhi.”
With Newcastle currently on a 44-year stint without any silverware, the Geordie faithful can only be encouraged by their star player, who has been out for 10 weeks with a hamstring problem, coming out to announce his loyalty to the club and his belief they can win the Europa League.
But Newcastle’s path to European glory will not be an easy one.
Their first test will be against Russian side and mega rich Anzhi Makhachkala, a team who have yet to concede at home in Europe this season.
Newcastle are in Moscow to play play the first leg today, and Ben Arfa and his team-mates will know they will have to be at their best to defeat a side that have spent around £300million in two years.
Pardew’s men will know the size of the task in front of them by just looking at Anzhi’s record and team sheet.
Undefeated and yet to concede at home, and with players such as Samuel Eto’o in their ranks, Newcastle will go in as underdogs when they travel to Moscow.
But Ben Arfa wants to be part of ‘history’ at Newcastle, and end their 44-year wait for a major trophy.
He added of the test of Anzhi: “I know Eto’o. I also know Lassana Diarra from the national team. They are a good team with very good players.
“They are targeting this competition and next year want to be in the Champions League. They have great ambition.
“It will be a very hard game. But I am looking forward to playing. I am very happy to be back on the pitch.”