Leon Best proved to be an unlikely hero as he scored his first, second and third goals for Newcastle in an hour. Since joining from Coventry City almost a year ago Best has failed to live up to his surname and looked to be heading out of the club in the current transfer window. But the Irishman took his chance of a rare start in fine style, thanks to injuries to regular strikers Andy Carroll and Shola Ameobi. Best shares similar attributes to Carroll, as he carries some threat in the air and is also left footed, shown in all three of his cool finishes. With injuries beginning to tell Best may get an opportunity to show his quality as a Premier League player after spending most of his career below the top flight. Manager Alan Pardew revealed after the game that Best was given his chance due to his desire to prove his worth. He said: “Leon has been knocking on my door telling me he has not had an opportunity. He has been here a year, I said ‘there’s no goals, no assists, what is there to keep about you’. He kept telling me he could do it.” Best has managed to show in one game that he may be worth keeping on Tyneside after all.
On the transfer front Newcastle became one of the first teams to do business in the window with the signing of Hatem Ben Arfa on a four and a half year deal. The attacking midfielder is hopeful of returning to training in the near future and should still have a part to play this season. The 23-year-old said: “I am absolutely delighted to be signing for Newcastle United on a permanent basis. During my short time at the club, I thoroughly enjoyed playing for the team and for the supporters too.” According to Pardew, Newcastle could have another new face in before the weekend. Tottenham outcast David Bentley has been heavily linked with a switch north and would provide much needed competition in the wide areas.
In the third round of the FA Cup the Magpies will be hoping to avoid a giant-killing when they travel to League Two side Stevenage Borough. When the two teams last met in 1998 the tie had to be decided in a replay as the Magpies just avoided national embarrassment. Pardew could be without six players on Saturday as injuries begin to tot up. Steven Taylor and Cheik Tiote were both substituted against West Ham with hamstring injuries. The likes of Dan Gosling, Danny Guthrie and Shane Ferguson could all feature against Stevenage.