On his day Hatem Ben Arfa can be absolutely unplayable, the French wizard has an abundance of talent, yet he has found it incredibly difficult to nail down a place in Alan Pardew’s starting XI this season. He was part of history last weekend, coming off the bench just before the half-hour mark to help Newcastle to a famous victory at Old Trafford – their first in almost 42 years. So why is one of Newcastle’s most influential and creative players sitting on the bench? Well firstly, the performances of others in his position have been impeccable of late. Moussa Sissoko and Yoan Gouffran have been highly dependable. Their work rate, commitment and desire has been first class – area’s Ben Arfa has been questioned in. The problem Pardew faces is working out where Ben Arfa fits into his side. This season he has featured as a lone striker and on the wing. In both instances he has received criticism. The main criticism stems from his defensive frailty and his inability to track back, but against Manchester United, he did exactly that to great effect. He even went to the effort of blocking David Moyes as the Manchester United manager attempted to throw the ball back into play. Maybe his best form of defence is attack. That certainly seemed to be the case at Old Trafford as he ran at their defence and kept the ball for long periods, allowing the rest of the team to get a breather and regroup. Now Ben Arfa must maintain those effort levels to go with his terrific skill. If Newcastle can get him playing well and working hard, they have some player on their hands, but it’s a big if right now.