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Newcastle v Stoke: Ben Arfa Starts

Written by Newcastle Utd

Hatem Ben Arfa will make his first start since October in Newcastle's Boxing Day clash against Stoke City

By Dan King - Newcastle United Digital Editor

At St. James' Park

Hatem Ben Arfa's reward for an eye-catching cameo at Crystal Palace on Saturday is a first start since October against Stoke.

The Frenchman scored a penalty at Selhurst Park and looked keen to impress Alan Pardew after coming from the bench, and it would appear that he did just that.

Cheick Tiote is suspended after picking up his fifth booking of the season and so Ben Arfa comes in for the only change. He hasn't started since the derby defeat to Sunderland almost two months ago.

He will play wide of main striker Loic Remy, with Yoan Gouffran also up front. Moussa Sissoko will join Yohan Cabaye and Vurnon Anita in midfield.

Unsurprisingly, United's defence - which has conceded just one goal in the last three matches - remains unchanged.

However Steven Taylor is on the bench after playing for the under-21s against Norwich last week.

Newcastle United (4-3-3): Tim Krul; Mathieu Debuchy, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Davide Santon; Moussa Sissoko, Vurnon Anita, Yohan Cabaye; Yoan Gouffran, Hatem Ben Arfa; Loic Remy

Substitutes: Rob Elliot, Massadio Haidara, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Steven TaylorGabriel Obertan, Papiss Cisse, Shola Ameobi

Stoke City (4-5-1): Thomas Sorensen; Geoff Cameron, Ryan Shawcross (c), Marc Wilson, Eric Pieters; Jonathan Walters, Steven N'Zonzi, Glenn Whelan, Charlie Adam, Oussama Assaidi; Peter Crouch

Substitutes: Jack Butland, Marc Muniesa, Wilson Palacios, Kenwyne Jones, Marko Arnautovic, Andy Wilkinson, Stephen Ireland

Referee: Martin Atkinson (Yorkshire)