Newcastle V Sunderland at St James' Park : Match Preview

31 January 2014 06:31
Newcastle V Sunderland - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Pardew: Ben Arfa must seize chance

Alan Pardew has challenged Hatem Ben Arfa to help defuse another furious backlash as Newcastle look for a derby-day tonic.

The Magpies will head into Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash with arch rivals Sunderland having sold Yohan Cabaye to Paris St Germain and with their pursuit of potential replacement Clement Grenier having stalled.

Owner Mike Ashley and director of football Joe Kinnear - the club is yet to make a permanent signing during his seven months in the job - find themselves in the firing line once again with only Loic Remy and Luuk de Jong having arrived on loan during the last two transfer windows.

In the circumstances, it is Pardew who will have to find a man to plug the chasm left in his team by Cabaye's departure. And, in a game he cannot afford to lose, that man this weekend could be Ben Arfa.

Pardew said: "I have said to him, 'You have been waiting and you have been patient', because he has conducted himself well in and around the building and his temperament has been great.

"Now his time has come and, in football, you have to take the moment when it arrives."

Pardew cut a deflated figure as he conducted his pre-match press conference already aware that his hopes of landing Grenier were doomed.

The 52-year-old turned to Ben Arfa at Norwich on Tuesday evening as Cabaye travelled to Paris for a medical and saw him produce the kind of performance which his talent suggests he should deliver regularly, but often does not.

Pardew has little choice but to rely upon the squad members he has left, and is hoping the likes of forgotten man Sylvain Marveaux and youngster Sammy Ameobi can step up to the plate before - as he did after seeing Andy Carroll sold in January 2011 without a replacement - belatedly welcoming new recruits during the summer.

"It's a blow to lose Cabaye, and I think we are all aware of losing that creative influence," Pardew said.

"But we need to lean on other members of our staff if we don't get a replacement, and in particular Sammy, Marveaux, Hatem, those creative influences who have been on the sidelines.

"I just want us to have a great season, and hopefully build again for next year and try to get European football if we can.

"For us, it's about trying to progress as a team and in the next six months, we need to do that.

"I think there will be a couple of changes in the summer that will be significant as well, and we need to make sure that we come out of it very, very strong."

Striker Remy has failed in an attempt to have the needless red card he received at Carrow Road rescinded, while Yoan Gouffran and Papiss Cisse, along with long-term absentee Fabricio Coloccini, are likely to miss out once again through injury.

Liam Bridcutt could be thrown straight into the heat of the Tyne-Wear derby barely 24 hours after completing his move to Sunderland.

The 24-year-old Scotland international became a Black Cat on Friday morning - weeks after the Wearside club first registered their interest in him - when he signed a three-and-a-half year contract to seal a deal understood to have cost his new employers in the region of B#2.5million.

But with Lee Cattermole injured as Stoke made their move to take him to the Britannia Stadium on the final day of the January transfer window, Bridcutt could find himself thrust into the limelight at St James' Park on Saturday.

However, if that is the way manager Gus Poyet decides to go, he will have no qualms about handing a man he knows well from their time together at the Amex Stadium a key derby role.

Poyet said: "Liam has got one advantage compared with the rest of the squad: he knows us very well, he knows how we play, he understands the role perfectly, so the only thing that can go badly for Liam is if he is in bad form.

"The rest, I am so relaxed, I have got no problems. If I go with Liam in the team, I am going to be very relaxed because I know what he's going to do."

He added: "If you take into consideration as well the price we paid for him, how much we want him, how much we value him - he's British, he's young and for this important role - I think it was a bargain for us to have."

Argentinian striker Ignacio Scocco will also go straight into the squad provided his international clearance arrives in time but Steven Fletcher is a doubt with a niggling Achilles problem.

Source: PA