Ben Arfa tips Newcastle rise
Wed, 15 May 2013 12:26:00
Hatem Ben Arfa is confident Newcastle will be back fighting at the top end of the Premier League table next season.
The Magpies end a disappointing campaign at home to Arsenal on Sunday in a fixture that might have been far more significant had they not ensured survival with last weekend's 2-1 victory at QPR.
Alan Pardew's side, who last season qualified for the Europa League after finishing fifth, could yet finish as high as 10th if they beat the Gunners, who themselves need victory to seal UEFA Champions League qualification.
But though a top-ten finish would mask this term's deficiencies, Ben Arfa believes better luck with injuries and more time to integrate January's arrivals will make for a stronger showing next time around.
He told the Chronicle: "When you look at the individual players we already have, there are some fantastic talented players on that list.
"This season, we haven't been able to play together a lot. We have had a few injuries. A few new players also came in during January and needed some time.
"But when we are all together next season, we can really do well. Then, we can go again and I think we can have a season like we did last season. Of that, I'm sure."
The 26-year-old Frenchman, hampered by a hamstring problem, has managed only 18 league appearances this campaign but despite lingering rumours he could leave in the summer, insists he is focused on pre-season in Tyneside.
"I have always just wanted to work hard and play well," he added. "I just want to be as fit as I can for the start of next season now."