Despite a distressful last year at Newcastle United, Hatem Ben Arfa has high hopes for the Magpies in 2013-14.
“Our objective is to finish in the top 10 and I hope we can finish top five,” the midfielder told The Sun on Thursday.
It’s a notion that some may snicker at, especially considering the destruction Newcastle suffered last Monday night in the 4-0 loss to Manchester City. “That is going to be tough but I’m confident. The Manchester City game has gone and now we have to turn out attention to West Ham on Saturday.”
Forgetting the City game is a good idea. Yes, the Magpies offense was positively anemic (their only shot on target was Cheick Tiote’s rip from 35 yards out) and defense was leakier than a soiled diaper. Both of these, of course, come with the caveat of having played a man down for 45 minutes. (Cheers, Steven Taylor.)
The fact remains that despite Monday’s display and all the other blights on Newcastle in the last 12 months – the 16th place finish in the league, the loss of Demba Ba, the 3-0 pounding handed out by rival Sunderland at St. James’ Park, a transfer market that hasn’t seen a single dollar spent and the comically inept trio of Joe Kinnear, Mike Ashley and Alan Pardew – the Magpies still managed a 5th place finish in 2011-12.
Seems like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it?
So let’s hand it to Ben Arfa. For a player who feels like he could be half of a season away from a possible transfer out of Tyneside, he’s on-board for the rise of the Toon. “I will be doing everything for the team to maybe repeat what we did two years ago,” the 26 year old continued. “We will be stronger than last year. There’s confidence in the squad. We think we can do something good this season.”
Despite sitting at the top of the table in the Premier League, things are not going well for Manchester City.
Star striker and leading goalscorer Sergio Aguero suffered a torn hamstring while playing for Argentina, and now he is joined by David Silva on the injured list.
Silva lasted nine minutes in Spain’s EURO qualifying match against Luxembourg, forced off after taking a bad challenge from behind. Silva went down in pain and tried to play on, but asked for a substitution just minutes later.
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Spanish news outlet AS is reporting that Silva has suffered “lateral internal ligament damage in his right ankle,” and could face 2-3 weeks on the sidelines.
With Aguero set to miss at least a month, Silva’s injury could leave Manchester City without two of their top players in the coming weeks.
Silva has arguably been the best player in the Premier League this season, the quarterback of the City attack, which has scored a league-leading 19 goals through eight matches.
City travels to Old Trafford for the Manchester derby on October 25, which falls into that 2-3 week range for Silva’s recovery. In a match that could decide who sits top of the table, Manuel Pellegrini would be very shorthanded without Silva and Aguero.
Alejandro Bedoya will not feature for the United States in the CONCACAF playoff against Mexico on Saturday, and has been replaced on the roster by Bobby Wood.
Bedoya traveled to Los Angeles from his club team Nantes in France, but Jurgen Klinsmann has announced he will be unable to play after falling ill.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]
Without Bedoya, Union Berlin midfielder Bobby Wood has been added to the USMNT side. Wood scored the first two goals of his international career this summer in wins over the Netherlands and Germany, and has scored four goals in ten matches for Union Berlin this season. Wood has been training with the U.S. camp throughout the week for the upcoming friendly against Costa Rica.
Bedoya has played well for the USMNT, discounting his short performance against Brazil in September. In that match, Klinsmann played Bedoya out of position against a potent Brazil attack, and he was substituted before halftime. However, playing in his more natural role as a winger or attacking midfielder, many believed Bedoya could be in line for a start against Mexico.