- Premier League
Pardew: Ben Arfa not up to speed yet
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew said his side played some of their most positive football of the season during a 2-1 loss to Fulham on Monday night but lamented his players' inability to match the pace of the fast-starting Londoners.
The returning Hatem Ben Arfa was one player singled out as not being at the required level to match the Cottagers in the opening stages.
The Frenchman recovered his wits in the second half to score a beautiful goal which cancelled out Steve Sidwell's opener after 19 minutes, drawing praise from Pardew for his turnaround.
The 25-year-old has missed his side's last four matches with a hamstring injury and only lasted 65 minutes at Craven Cottage but Pardew believes he and his team-mates will be more robust in five days' time when Manchester City come to St James' Park.
However with the Magpies currently in 14th and without an away win all season, Pardew admitted that their trip south was a missed opportunity.
"The players have put in maximum effort and we have played some of our best attacking football of the season really," Pardew told Sky Sports.
"But we've still come away with nothing and performances unfortunately don't get you points, we have to get some points on the board.
"We missed that first period where one or two players got caught with the pace that Fulham attacked us at. In Hatem's first game I think he struggled in that first period but then we came into it and you could sense at half-time that we were still in this game.
"I thought there was a lot right with our side, we had a good balance to it. Hatem played 65 minutes which we intended to play him for because he hadn't really trained much, [and] got a great goal.
"He will be a bit better and fitter for the next one and I think at home we will be a threat to anyone.
"Trust me it's still a tough game for Man City."