Tactic Talk: Debutant Cisse and Ba make immediate impact at Newcastle

Newcastle United continued to target Champions League qualification with a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa at the Sports Direct Arena on Sunday. With the Magpies enjoying a successful campaign so far under manager Alan Pardew, the introduction of a new combination in the Newcastle attack in the shape of Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse will give the club a great cause for optimism.

With top scorer Ba returning in his first match since his return from the Africa Cup of Nations, the Senegal international immediate resumed his impressive Premier League form, scoring the opener as the game approached the half-hour mark. After Ryan Taylor’s effort was blocked, injuring the midfielder in the process, Ba reacted quickest to pounce on the loose ball, firing home from close range to give the hosts the advantage.

The injury to Taylor would contribute to six added minutes at the end of the first half, during which time on loan forward Robbie Keane fired Villa level going into the interval. With the match evenly poised at the break, the stage was set for the Pardew’s latest addition to announce himself to the Newcastle faithful.

Introduced after an early injury to Leon Best, Newcastle fans were treated to their first glimpse of Cisse, for the first time sporting the iconic Newcastle No 9 shirt. The £10m signing from German side Freiburg impressed on his first appearance for the club, with a strike befitting of the legendary previous occupants of the jersey. In the 71st minute, Cisse seized his opportunity, controlling the ball with his chest on the edge of the penalty area, before unleashing a stunning volley past Shay Given in the Villa goal to secure the three points for the home side.

Sitting fifth in the Premier League table, just a point off of the Champions League places, the side’s current form represents a remarkable turnaround from a side relegated to the Championship in 2009. Less than three years on, under new management, Pardew has managed to build a side around the likes of Ba and Ivorian midfielder Chieck Tiote, a move which has led to almost inevitable speculation regarding their long-term future at the club. However, Newcastle have looked to build upon the promise within the ranks, by bolstering their squad with the likes of Cisse coming in.

After a successful spell in Germany, the Senegalese forward has shown early signs that he can satisfy the demands of an expectant Newcastle support. With Ba also continuing his impressive goal-scoring form and Tiote still to return, Newcastle now find themselves in a strong position ahead of their upcoming fixtures. Should their key players continue in strong form, Newcastle could continue to be this season’s surprise package.

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