The January transfer window, a little respite for struggling managers and an opportunity to find the missing piece in the puzzle. There are all sorts of examples of wonderful signings that have changed a team’s season and of course there are those who have failed miserably. When Newcastle and Liverpool go head to head at St James’ Park in the Saturday evening kick off the two sides will be led up-front by players who made big impacts after their January moves. Part of Newcastle’s incredible 5th placed finish last season was down to the remarkable way that Papiss Cissé took to the Premier League following his £10 million move from Freiburg. Daniel Sturridge had been cast aside at Chelsea but he has been reinvigorated at Liverpool under Brendan Rodgers which culminated in the forward providing a goal and an assist against his former employers last weekend. With Luis Suarez now banned for ten games the responsibility will fall onto Sturridge’s shoulders to keep his team’s European push alive. Cissé meanwhile has had an indifferent season after his explosive start to his Newcastle career but he has popped up with important goals in recent weeks and cannot be ignored by the Liverpool backline.
Given that Sturridge has only played 10 times for Liverpool this season comparisons between the two are tricky so as well as comparing the two this season I will also be looking at the Cissé last season after his move from January. Let’s start with this season however and first of all their importance to the team outside of their goal threat. It is worth pointing out that Cissé has featured in 32 matches this season for Newcastle in comparison to Sturridge’s 10 but even then some interesting comparisons can be made. Cissé averages 0.78 dribbles per match whilst Sturridge averages 2.2. This can be put down to Sturridge’s dribbling ability and his willingness to run at defenders. Due to his speed the England international is also often utilised on the wing where he can exploit his willingness to run at defenders.
Cissé meanwhile is nearly always played as a lone forward and even more so since the departure of Demba Ba. The two players have provided the same number of assists which doesn’t read well for Cissé given how fewer games his younger counterpart has played. Sturridge has a considerably better minutes per chance created (37) than Cissé (88) and his minutes per clear-cut-chances created (245.7) is also a lot more impressive than his Newcastle rival (881.7). As mentioned earlier this can be down to Cissé’s general lack of involvement in Newcastle’s build up play and the role in which he is used. It also comes down to the two team’s style and under Rodgers Liverpool’s front three are extremely fluid and interchangeable which means they have more of an opportunity to create chances.
In terms of goals Cissé has had an extremely disappointing return this season with just eight goals whilst Sturridge has already scored five in just ten appearances. Therefore it isn’t surprising to see Sturridge’s minutes per goal ratio (147) completely outshine that of Cissé (331) and unfortunately for the Senegalese these kinds of showings don’t end there. Sturridge takes far less time to test the goalkeeper with a minutes per shot on target figure of 39 over twice as less as the figure that Cissé can muster (91). Sturridge’s willingness to shoot gives the aura of a player high on confidence which comes from a player who needs to feel loved. Cissé meanwhile is obviously struggling for form and for a player who has been used to scoring regularly over the past two years it must be concerning to be going through a patch of form such as this. Sturridge is also a lot more prolific in front of goal than Cissé with a higher chance conversion ratio (14% compared to 11%) and a better clear-cut-chance conversion rate (31% compared to 23%). He also has better shooting accuracy of 54% which is 13% better than Cissé’s 41%. This shows a real drop in Cissé’s performances this season and it is no surprise that this has coincided with the general loss of form for Newcastle United.
In order to show that there is still a strong striker left in Papiss Cissé let’s revisit his 14 match spell last season and then compare his goal statistics to those of Sturridge. Now Cissé starts to compete with Sturridge and he shows just how good a striker he really is. His 13 goals vastly outweigh Sturridge’s 5 and his shooting accuracy is a far healthier 60%. He still takes longer to record a shot on target (53 minutes) but his accurate shooting suggests that he is just more selective and effective with his shots. Cissé’s chance conversion for this period (37%) is over double Sturridge’s and his clear-cut-chance conversion ratio has increased to 50%. Last season everything Cissé touched seemed to rocket into the back of the net and few will forget his goal of the season contender at Stamford Bridge.
It would be fair to say that Cissé set the Premier League alight following his January transfer and equally that something hasn’t been quite right with the forward this season, the statistics show that. He was often played as the central striker last season with Demba Ba shifted out wide but before January the scenario was often reversed with Ba playing down the middle and Cissé on the wings. His failure there suggests that Sturridge is the more complete player given his versatility in playing down the middle or on the wing.
With Suarez absent Sturridge will be the focal point of the Liverpool attack and whilst he may not be as talented as the Uruguayan he will be desperate to prove his worth. He was denied the opportunity to play as the central striker at Chelsea and if he’s honest he’ll probably be disappointed with a similar lack of opportunities. Suarez’s 10 game ban opens the door for Sturridge and after watching both sides last week I believe he will hold the key over Cissé. I wouldn’t be surprised if both players score but Sturridge’s general link up play might prove to be the difference.
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Student and aspiring football journalist. Keen interest in the global game across all leagues and levels. Chelsea fan. Twitter: @psharland55
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