Mind the Pap: Sensational Cisse underlines Newcastle's Champions League quality

The former Freiburg man has shown - with his spectacular form since arriving on Tyneside at the end of January - that transfers in the winter window can work out handsomely


By Miles Chambers

Papiss Cisse has simply been a sensation for Newcastle United and his stunning strikes at Chelsea continued the club’s chase for Champions League qualification.

Tyneside has not had a No.9 so universally adored by supporters since Alan Shearer, and there is no finer compliment to pay a Magpies striker than that.

Flanked by Demba Ba and Hatem Ben Arfa in an attacking trident, Cisse has notched up 13 goals in his first 12 games in English football - a goalscoring feat which equals the Premier League record.

Ba became popular with the Toon Army after an excellent start following his summer arrival, but his original impact pales in comparison to how his Senegalese compatriot has subsequently shone.


Outrageous double stole all three points for his side in a game that the opposition dominated. Raises the bar just when you think it could not be raised any higher.

GOAL! WHAT A FINISH FROM CISSE!!!!! The Senegal striker waits for the ball to bounce before striking it with the outside of his right boot and leaving Cech with absolutely no chance in the Chelsea goal! Two absolutely unbelievable strikes from Tyneside's new hero: 2-0 Newcastle.

Alan Pardew - and my word, what a 12 months the Magpies manager has had - must be giddy with glee at how the £10 million January investment has paid off.

Along with Everton’s January signing, Nikica Jelavic, Cisse has dispelled the myth that winter window signings are a tough nut to crack.

However, the centre forward’s outstanding start since his switch from Freiburg is no coincidence.

Ba has acted as an interpreter because of his limited English, and his striking partner also sacrificed the role of central striker for the sake of the squad without so much as a grumble.

Compare this to the murmurs of discontent that emanate from Stamford Bridge when players are asked to play out of position and you can see why the team spirit has been another factor in helping Cisse settle in.

Chelsea, brimming with intent but lacking in the final third, were beaten fair and square on Wednesday night because of the former Freiburg striker's world-class finishing.

Cisse's first goal - chipping the ball up from Davide Santon’s grounded pass before hammering into the top corner - was brilliant but his second was breathtaking.

With his first touch the Newcastle front man struck the ball with the outside of his boot from at least 30 yards out on the left flank. The Stamford Bridge crowd watched with disbelief as it sailed into the far corner and sealed the 2-0 win for the visiting team in stoppage time.

Part of Cisse’s trick is making the most of limited opportunities, but what makes him so dangerous is that he is not restricted to poaching positions.

Analysis of his strikes in a Newcastle jersey show he can score fine goals with his left foot, his right foot and his head and from all-manner of angles.

Cisse's goals have been crucial to the club collecting seven wins in their last eight matches, with the 4-0 defeat at Wigan Athletic at the end of April their only blip in form since the Magpies’ last-gasp loss at Arsenal in mid-March.

The Gunners and the Blues will be among the top European teams casting envious glances at a player for whom £10m is looking like a bargain.

You can bet scouts across the country are being berated for not noticing the Senegal international’s availability back in January. Newcastle took something of a gamble and boy did it pay off.

3/1 Newcastle are 3/1 to finish in the top four of the Premier League with bet365

If the club achieve the improbable by permeating the top-four boundary it could do wonders for English football. Much was made of Harry Redknapp taking Tottenham to fourth two campaigns ago but his squad was built around players assembled for a miniature fortune.

Newcastle United? They could feasibly finish third a mere season after promotion back into the top division. In the modern age of English football that would be a quite phenomenal feat.

It may grind the gears of Champions League stalwarts who would be sacrificed at the Magpies' expense, but it would send a message to teams up and down the league that the upper echelons are not out of reach.

Regardless of whether the team achieve elite European status this season, Alan Pardew’s side are rapidly becoming a force to be reckoned with.

Despite his late arrival, Cisse is at the heart of United’s fairytale Premier League journey. Unless an astonishing summer bid for the striker is offered, expect him to be spinning a similar yarn next season.

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