Much has been said about Newcastle United’s ‘spending spree’ in January and in the eyes of most fans, other than bringing in a superstar striker, it really couldn’t have been a better window for the club.
In Matthieu Debuchy, Newcastle finally replaced the inconsistent Danny Simpson at right back and in Massadio Haidara, a superb young talent bolstering the strength of the squad at left back.
In Yoan Gouffran, the Magpies have a very mobile forward, who had a good scoring record in Ligue 1 and has shown a very impressive work ethic so far. Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa has as yet, not had an opportunity to show why so many top clubs across Europe have touted him for so long, but it is Moussa Sissoko who has really set the stage alight since his arrival at Newcastle from Toulouse.
At just €2m, Sissoko was a bargain that the Toon could ill afford to miss. The Newcastle hierarchy had planned to make the French international a summer addition, when his contract would have enabled him to sign for free, but with other clubs sniffing around and Newcastle United’s worrying league form, a push from Llambias and Co. and the wavering from Sissoko of his signing on fee, saw the North East side capture their man early.
In his début against Aston Villa, Sissoko was on hand to provide Papiss Cissé an assist for a much-needed goal – a sublimely weighted pass through the Villa defence onto Cissé’s front foot which he duly slotted home. And then, at home to Chelsea, he literally stole the show with an outstanding performance in which he scored two and produced a breath-taking display against some the league’s top and most experienced players.
Finally, in his third outing in England’s top division, Sissoko was on hand again, this time teeing up fellow Frenchman Yoan Gouffran for the equaliser against Spurs, ultimately not enough however to take any points this time.
That meant that in his first 3 Newcastle games, Moussa Sissoko had managed 2 goals (1 a match winner) and 2 assists – a fantastic impact so early in his Newcastle United career. If it hadnt been for some very questionable officiating against Metalist last week, his record would have continued too!
NUFC_Stats looked at some of Sissoko’s other numbers in comparison with the rest of the Toon squad & Premier League players, putting together some very interesting statements.
Probably more down to Newcastle United’s failings this season than Sissoko’s class, but to be the second top goal creator already is impressive. His position so high up the pitch is very much responsible for this, together with his vision and passing range – as aforementioned, he would have more assists if not for bad referreeing in Europe.
Sissoko has produced 8 chances in the Premier League so far – that’s 2.7 per game, more than any other Toon player and the same as Steven Gerrard, which happens to be the 6th best in the league. Yes, he’s only played 3 games, so no one is getting carried away, but it is the positions in which he creates the chances which excites me most. Newcastle have very much been a ‘cross & hope’ at times this season and, as the graphic below shows, Sissoko is offering a lot more industry in and around the penalty area from his No.10 role.
He only produced 2 through balls in his 3 games, but that’s only 1 less than Hatem Ben Arfa in his 13 games and Cabaye in his 15, so at 0.7 per game, he is the clubs most frequent. It is also exactly the same as the Premier League’s ‘through-ball’ specialist Santi Carzola, albeit in 23 games less.
Sissoko has had 8 shots at goal, getting 4 on target and having 1 blocked. That’s a 29% conversion rate, the best at the club and 12% more than the Premier League average. His 2.7 shots per game average is 0.2 better than second placed Ben Arfa at Newcastle United, 1.8 fewer than Demba Ba and 3.1 per game fewer than league leader Luis Suarez.
Two players at Newcastle United produce more passes per game on average than Moussa Sissoko (Cabaye & Tiote), but none have been as competent as the former Toulouse man in the final third – 47 out of his 59 attacking third passé have been accurate, which accounts for nearly 20 per game, way more than any other Toon player. He also plays more of his passes in the attacking half than any other Newcastle United player (86%) and along with only Yoan Gouffran (3/3), Sissoko is yet to misplace a single long ball in the league (6/6).
This has been a bone of contention of mine for a while now – during the Ba/Cissé days, I found teams finding it all too easy to play out from the back and the stats proved me right with the attacking pair producing very low possession winning values for the attacking third. In just 3 games, Sissoko has won back possession in the final third 4 times, just 2 less than Newcastle leader Papiss Cissé from 24 appearances.
As I stated earlier, and before anyone jumps on the proverbial bandwagon, no one is getting majorly carried away with Moussa Sissoko after just 3 games in the league and it is far too early to really compare him with anyone, especially outside of Newcastle United.
However, the early signs are that Newcastle have a top, top player on their hands, a player that’s carries the majority of traits needed to be successful in England’s top flight. He is exceptionally quick, tall, athletic, strong, has a superb work ethic & attitude and has already proven that he has a cracking eye for goal.
The Newcastle hierarchy deserve credit for more shrewd business in the transfer market and here’s hoping for more of the same in the summer window after Sissoko and Co have helped secure the Magpies’ Premier League status after a very drab season thus far!
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