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

19:45 We 29Jul

Celtic v FK Qarabag

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Qarabag have kept clean sheets in four of their six previous Champions League matches
Expert verdict
The name might not be familiar but Celtic know Qarabag pose a threat. The Azerbaijan champs, who beat FC Twente and eventual finalists Dnipro in last season’s Europa League and also held Inter and St Etienne to draws, are no mugs. A trip via four time zones won’t have helped but they can frustrate the Scots.


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