Hatem Ben Arfa is set to miss Newcastle's trip to Atromitos F.C. on Thursday, along with the return leg back at St. James Park the following Thursday night, due to a suspension picked up back in 2010, whilst playing for Marseille.
The French Magician, who set up and scored the winning penalty against Tottenham on Saturday, was sent off for the French side almost instantaneously after coming on as an injury time substitute shortly after Marseille went behind in the 90th minute after letting 1-0 lead slip.
Ben Arfa was trying to regain possession of the ball when he became frustrated and lashed out at Alan Kardec, the scorer of Benfica’s late winner, by kicking him from behind and showing no intent to go for the ball.
Consequently, Ben Arfa received a red card and, with that, a three match ban. Marseille were knocked out of the Europa League in that match and Ben Arfa joined Newcastle in August that year, so he has never had the chance to serve this ban until now. He will miss both legs against Greek side Atromitos F.C. and, should Newcastle get past the Athens-based club, Newcastle’s first group game of their Europa League campaign.
It was suggested last month that the team would be a changed one to what we would see on a Saturday, with Pardew saying that the Premier League is his priority, so we could have expected Ben Arfa to have been left out of the first 11 anyway. However, should The Toon find themselves in need of a spark to keep the Europa League dream alive, it is quite disheartening knowing that, arguably, our most talented player will not be available.
Nonetheless, Newcastle are still major favourites for the clash and fans, staff and players alike will be confident of coming back with positive news from the trip to Athens and certainly a game to look forward to as European football returns to St. James Park and Newcastle United Football Club.
Howay the Lads