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Magpies new-boy hails Hatem's French finish
LOIC REMY has shared a classroom with Hatem Ben Arfa in France and he is happy to be on a pitch again with a player he thinks will continue to light up Newcastle United’s Premier League season.
Ben Arfa was at his brilliant best at Villa Park on Saturday when he helped the Magpies forget about a lack of activity on transfer deadline day by claiming a third straight win.
He scored and set one up, as well as creating numerous other chances to remind everyone on Tyneside – and beyond – of his match-winning quality.
Remy knows all about his compatriot’s quality, having graduated through the ranks with him at Lyon and he has kept an eye on his progress ever since.
Ben Arfa’s three year stay on Tyneside has not been as straight-forward as he would have liked, having suffered numerous injury problems.
But when he has appeared in a black and white shirt he has proven to be one of the most creative talents in the Premier League. Remy is well aware of his ability and is looking forward to having Ben Arfa tee him up in front of goal this season.
“I have known him for a long time, so I am not surprised by his quality,” said Remy, who made his first start for Newcastle at Aston Villa following a season-long loan from QPR.
“He can score goals. He can give good things for the team, so I try to help him and he can help me to score as well.
“We first met a long time ago, we were at school together, at the same academy in Lyon. He is always the same. He is a funny guy, very friendly, sociable, he is the same now.
“This kind of player can change a game in a few minutes. When we conceded the equaliser at Villa late, we still had confidence in the quality that we have and that shows in the way we scored.”
With Remy capable of scoring goals on the left and Ben Arfa looking sharp on the right alongside the central figure of Papiss Cisse, Newcastle have a dangerous forward-line which will worry defences across the country.
And given Yohan Cabaye – who yesterday apologised for his early season behaviour - is determined to make amends for refusing to play in the opening few games, manager Alan Pardew has a strong enough side to do well – if everyone stays fit.
Remy said: “It is almost a French team, a lot of French players, but that is not a bad thing because there is a lot of quality in the French league and that is why English teams sign a lot of players from there.
“Yohan is a good professional, so it was not a problem for him when he came back in. He was not affected by what happened. That is in the past and he will look to the future. He is staying here, he knows he is staying here, so that will not be a problem at all.”
To have responded to a quiet transfer deadline day by winning the first game after the window closed, Newcastle should be planning to build on a positive start, which has seen them pick up seven points from the first 12 available to them ahead of this Saturday’s visit of Hull City.
“We are confident,” said Remy. “It was important to win, because if we can have a lot of games like this and win more and more games, it will be good for the future. We have a good game at home next week, and if we keep going we have the quality in the team to do very well this season.”
Cabaye, meanwhile, was disciplined for his refusal to play for Newcastle after Arsenal had seen a £10m offer rejected for him on the eve of the opening weekend’s defeat to Manchester City and he has now said sorry.
The France international, applauded by the travelling fans at Villa Park, said: “It was very nice to hear. If the fans were – or still are – mad at me for what happened then I understand and apologise to them. I want to come back from what happened. I was happy and am still happy. It was very good to be back in the team. A really, really nice feeling.”
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