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Hatem: 'We'll Be Better By Arf Next Year'

NUFC Logo Newcastle United FC

Goalscorer Hatem Ben Arfa helped Newcastle United to secure top flight status at QPR - then began to think ahead to a better 2013/14 campaign

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter

Hatem Ben Arfa's pressure penalty at Loftus Road paved the way for Newcastle to secure their Barclays Premier League status - and the French star is confident of better things next year.

Sunday's 2-1 win against Queens Park Rangers guaranteed top flight football at St. James' Park next term but, while there was a sense of relief at the full-time whistle, Ben Arfa knows that the Tyneside public rightly demand more.

Reaching the quarter-finals of the Europa League should not be underestimated and gave the fans some memorable nights but the domestic performance has been some way below the previous campaign, when United finished fifth.

However, with safety assured with a match to spare - the Magpies host Arsenal next weekend - the man from Clamart believes the foundations can now be laid for a strong 2013/14.

Speaking exclusively to nufc.co.uk, Ben Arfa said: "We're all very happy; all the team are very happy for the supporters of the Club.

"We fought hard for that and we're very happy to be safe.

"Everybody fought for the win - defensively and offensively, we stayed together and helped each other.

"We all fought for the Club and today we are very happy because the objective was to be safe.

"Next year we start another season and I think we're going to be very, very high in the table.

"I think we're going to do a big pre-season and I hope we start well. If we start well, I think it can be a very good season like last year."

On a nervy afternoon in the capital, Loic Remy put the already-relegated hosts ahead from the spot after just 11 minutes but Ben Arfa won a penalty of his own seven minutes later.

And, with the 1,608 visiting fans behind the opposite goal biting their nails, he calmly stepped up to fire past Rob Green to level matters. Compatriot Yoan Gouffran's 35th minute effort proved to be the winner but Ben Arfa's contribution at such a crucial time took nerves of steel.

Yet he insisted: "It was not stressful but I wanted to show to the squad that I have confidence.

"I scored and then we scored the second goal. After that, everybody stayed together and now we're very happy for our supporters.

"They were very important for us today because they came a long way, to London, and they supported us.

"It was very important because they saw that we're all together. They give us so much and we gave everything on the pitch for them."

Click here to buy a Newcastle United shirt with Ben Arfa's name and number on the back