Newcastle United: Why Papiss Cisse Must Step Up for the Toon
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In the absence of Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse is now the one thing standing between Newcastle United and relegation.
The general consensus is that Cisse and Ba were players too similar in style to operate successfully together, and it was Ba who got the majority of the goals. Even with those goals, Newcastle were still a couple of bad results away from the relegation zone.
Further misfortune befell Alan Pardew and his side with a recent report in The Independent that stated captain Fabricio Coloccini is seeking a move away from Tyneside in order to return to Argentina.
The importance of Coloccini cannot be overemphasised. The defence has been fragile all year, but Coloccini's presence in the side guarantees a level of organisation and discipline among the back four that disappears without him.
Injuries to Ryan and Steven Taylor have exacerbated the problem, but this Newcastle team without Coloccini looked like one bound for the Championship.
The recent addition of Mathieu Debuchy gives the defence an extra level of grit and determination, but if there's any way Coloccini can be retained then it absolutely must be done. If Coloccini can delay his move home until the end of the season, the Magpies have a chance to scout and acquire his successor.
According to a report by BBC Sport, Marseille have agreed a fee with Newcastle in the region of £8 million for French forward Loic Remy.
While this is undoubtedly good news, recent history suggests that even a Ba-esque string of goals from Remy wouldn't be enough to save the team. Shola Ameobi and Nile Ranger aren't going to contribute goals in that quantity, so in the end it comes down to one man.
Newcastle need Cisse in order to remain a Premier League side.
Pardew would no doubt point to the return of Yohan Cabaye as an encouraging sign. With Hatem Ben Arfa and Steven Taylor both set to return to action, 2013 suddenly looks a lot better than 2012.
Returning to Cisse, it's important to remember that he cannot be expected to do everything himself. Cisse will never be a player that jinks past two defenders before finding the net. Although everything he hit seemed to go in last year, he remains a player who thrives on service.
He's a natural goalscorer, but without support from his teammates the goals will dry up. Both Cabaye and Ben Arfa provide the spark the midfield so desperately needs, and the increase in creative players means that scoring opportunities also go up.
The addition of Remy would only add to this.
Remy's background as a winger enables him to perform on the left as part of a three-man attack, with Cisse in the centre and Ben Arfa on the right. This gives the attack a much more dynamic look than previously, with complementary players who actually suit the positions in which they are playing.
Remy’s pace allows him to beat the defence out wide then cut in and give himself an opportunity to find the target. He has an instinctive knack for goal that Thierry Henry displayed during his career at Arsenal, so it’s no surprise that Remy was also linked with the Gunners.
Remy has suffered at Marseille this year and hasn’t played a full game. This lack of match fitness could be a problem early on, but with the return of Ben Arfa and Cabaye, Newcastle suddenly have a wealth of creative options with which to feed their striker.
His ability to draw defenders away automatically gives Cisse more space, which will be of immediate benefit to the Senegalese striker.
Since starting this season, Cisse has struggled with his first touch, which has been poor and often taken away a shooting opportunity. He has had the look of a player thinking about his game too much, and as a result his natural striker’s instinct has diminished.
Acquiring a player like Remy who thrives out wide will give Cisse the chance to get back to the player seen last year.
If they want to remain in the Premier League, Pardew and Newcastle need this to happen as soon as possible.
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