Newcastle United number ten Hatem Ben Arfa will play the pivotal role in keeping Newcastle away from the relegation zone this season.
The talented Frenchman scored a classy winner on Saturday to score Newcastle's first goal of the season and earn them their first three points of the campaign.
Ben Arfa was the one shining light in an otherwise dismal game of football. Visitors Fulham looked content to earn a draw as Dimitar Berbatov increasingly dropped into midfield to slow the game down for his side.
The winner sparked mixed scenes of relief and jubilation as the Magpies finally got off the mark and allowed under-fire boss Alan Pardew, to relax slightly going into the international break.
Ben Arfa suffered a nasty injury at the hands of Nigel de Jong in his first season in England, sustaining a broken tibia and fibula in his left leg. Since then, the Newcastle attacker has suffered numerous injuries, preventing him from playing a consistent role in the team.
Papiss Demba Cisse continued his poor form in front of goal. The Senegalese striker has found it hard in front of goal since the departure of Demba Ba for Chelsea in January last season. Cisse last scored a league goal against Fulham in April to secure Newcastle's Premier League status but has looked hesitant and off-the-pace since.
With a seemingly quiet transfer window for Pardew about to close, the fitness and form of Ben Arfa will prove vital in the goals department however, the introduction of on-loan striker Loic Remy on Saturday, proved a turning-point in the match.
The French forward helped pressurise the Fulham defence into mistakes and set the mood for the winning goal which Ben Arfa provided in timely fashion.
Newcastle looked flat for most of the game but seemed galvanised by the Remy substitution and this effect led to a superb winner from Ben Arfa.
Pardew will be counting on keeping his best players fit and his most creative is certainly his number ten. Ben Arfa's skill, pace and shooting ability make him one of the most dangerous players in the Premier League and the need to keep him fit is paramount for Newcastle United in what could be a turbulent season ahead.
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