Ben Arfa set to miss all Toon Christmas games

NEWCASTLE manager Alan Pardew is expecting to be without Hatem Ben Arfa for the Toon's three Christmas games in seven days.

Ben Arfa seemingly aggravated a hamstring injury in the defeat at Fulham earlier in the month after missing the Magpies' previous four games and was absent from Saturday's loss to Manchester City as a precaution against more damage.

And Pardew is still inclined not to risk turning the niggle into a long-term problem. He said: "Hatem looks like he is going to miss the next two or three with the injury he has got. We can't risk him."

The Magpies, who host QPR on Saturday and then go to Manchester United and Arsenal and are also currently without players of the calibre of Steven Taylor and Yohan Cabaye, have slipped to 15th in the table. However, they remain 8-1 to be relegated and 11-10 shots to beat QPR. Ramgers, who won for the first time in the Premier League on Saturday against Fulham and are unbeaten in four games under Harry Redknapp, are 12-5 to leave St James' Park with a point and 11-4 to take all three.

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is talking about resting starlet Raheem Sterling and young summer signing from Swansea Joe Allen at some stage of the festive period. The Reds are 8-13 shots to beat Fulham at Anfield in Saturday's early evening live game though.

Match in Focus

12:15 Sa 27Dec

Hibernian v Rangers

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Hibs have lost just one of their last ten home matches
Expert verdict
It seems as if there is fresh turmoil at Rangers every week and it will be interesting to see how the Gers settle after Ally McCoist's departure. They have lost their last three away games and conceded eight goals, so Hibs should be hopeful. However, four of their last five league matches at Easter Road have been draws and this could be another one.

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