Sissoko a better partner for Cisse than Ba, claims Pardew

The Frenchman netted his third league goal at St James' Park for the Magpies in just his second appearance, and was hailed as the perfect replacement for the now-Chelsea attacker
Alan Pardew believes that Moussa Sissoko is a better partner for Papiss Cisse at Newcastle than Demba Ba on the evidence of the Frenchman's start to life on Tyneside.

Ba moved to Chelsea for €8.7 million in January after netting 13 goals in 20 games, but Pardew believes his attack has more balance now that the former Toulouse man has replaced the Senegal international.

He told reporters: "I've been saying for a long time since I arrived at this club that we've never really had a natural No.10 because in the modern game, you need to have that.

"Moussa came in and is much better at that [than Ba]. Obviously Demba's a striker, he plays that No.9 role for Chelsea, but we have Papiss.

"It gives us different options, a bit more freedom to attack thanks to his natural ability and defensive attitude, we need it. I think it's a better combination than what we had before."

Pardew believes that the win over the Saints has set his side up for a late-season tilt at the top half of the table and hailed the 35-yard Cisse strike that had given the Toon a half-time lead.

"Look at the league table and we've now put outselves in a position to attack 10th, and that was why it was important to get victory today," he added.

"We should attack the top 10 now and we can with this team, it's a considerable difference to six weeks ago, with people returning and the new players.

"[Cisse's goal] reminded me of that goal of the season from Alan [against Everton] many years ago here, a dipping volley. As soon as he hit it you sensed it was in and of course the net ripples. He's got that in him, Papiss, he's done it before but it was a really fantastic one today."

The Magpies were celebrating 'France Day' after their influx of Gallic players in January, and the 51-year-old was happy with the event.

"In some ways, it was a great idea from above, as I thought it took a bit of tension out the game," he said. "The fun element, it certainly helped us a bit.

"I went to a French restaurant last night just to get in the mood for it, but I suffered all night with indigestion!"

Saints boss Mauricio Pochettino thought that his side deserved to win the game and criticised referee Martin Atkinson for not giving a foul in the build-up to Cisse's goal.

The Argentine did not have an issue, however, with a seemingly-harsh penalty awarded for handball against Danny Fox.

"We are very sad about the result, especially taking into account how well we started," he said. "After we got the first goal, we didn't really control the game as we should have.

"Especially the second goal, it's clear that there was a foul on Clyne and it's clear that there's an offside on the images. It's not a complaint but these had an influence on the end result of the match.

"I do have confidence in my team. We played a very good second half and deserved to win the match. The small details make it so that we leave St James' Park empty-handed.

"It is obvious that we will stay in the Premier League.

"The handball was completely involuntarily, it was one of those things that can be or could not be called by the ref. My complaint is more about the second goal and the foul on Clyne and the offside that was not called.

"It was hard for me to see it during the match so I imagine it would be hard for the referees as well. It is clear to me because I saw it on the television."