A week on from an exhilarating round of FA Cup clashes that threw up a series of giant-killing acts, this weekend’s English Premier League Round 25 action didn’t quite match the sensational headlines.
Not that there weren’t good team performances: Liverpool’s at Manchester City on Sunday night showed a promising indicator of the Reds’ progress under Brendan Rodgers, while Reading showed plenty of verve to beat Sunderland 2-1 at home. Aston Villa went to Goodison Park and secured a good point against Everton, while Queens Park Rangers continued their mini resurgence with a point against Norwich City.
Not that there weren’t good individual performances either. Daniel Sturridge put in a shift up front that will have gotten Liverpool fans drooling and Chelsea fans despondent. Gareth Bale made the difference against a steely West Bromwich Albion side with a well-taken goal. Christian Benteke was once again inspirational up front for Paul Lambert.
But amidst a clutch of pretenders, there is only one real candidate for EPL team of the weekend, and from that only one real candidate for EPL player of the weekend.
Newcastle United, following their comeback 3-2 home win against Chelsea, and Moussa Sissoko, who scored two goals to get them all three points.
After 61 minutes, Frank Lampard and Juan Mata looked to have secured the Blues their own comeback victory, bringing Chelsea 2-1 up with Jonas Gutierrez opening the scoring for the Magpies. But Sissoko had other ideas, scoring in the 68th and 90th minutes to win game for Newcastle.
Those were his first two league goals for his new club on his second appearance, just days after notching a match-winning assist against Aston Villa in midweek. His first goals since signing for Newcastle for a mere £1.8 million from Toulouse, bringing the French contingent at St. James’ Park to double figures. His first goals since taking up the black-and-white No. 7 shirt, worn previously by such mavericks as Joey Barton, Albert Luque, Jermaine Jenas and Kieron Dyer.
And by scoring two goals against Chelsea on Sunday, Sissoko eclipsed his goal tally of a solitary goal in his final 38 Ligue 1 appearances within just two games for Newcastle.
Some record from a player, who, despite being fielded as an attacking midfielder behind Papiss Demba Cisse on Saturday, actually made his name in a more defensive position during his time in France.
That’s the context in which we praise Moussa Sissoko, which becomes a curious context given his comfort in an advanced role for Alan Pardew against Chelsea, and the stats are there to back this up.
His two goals came from six attempted shots, which tied with Frank Lampard’s efforts for Chelsea, and his five attempts from open play eclipsed any other player in the Premier League Round 25. He enjoyed an excellent night in shot accuracy with four shots on target.
Another hallmark of his play is his dribbling and pace, which he displayed to full extent in a sprint against famed speedster Ashley Cole, and his two successful dribbles saw him top the Newcastle-Chelsea dribble list. To round off his attacking contributions, his three key passes saw him finish second only to fellow Frenchman Yoann Gouffran.
In short, this was a masterclass in attacking midfield play from Moussa Sissoko, whose barnstorming runs behind Cisse caused the Chelsea defence trouble all afternoon, and whose wholehearted endeavors were rewarded with a fine introduction to the St. James’ Park crowd.
The standing ovation he received when he was substituted for fellow new recruit Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa in injury time was well deserved and hinted at the birth of a new crowd favorite.
We all love a bargain buy who does well in the Premier League.
Judging from his dominating performance in a fearless win over Chelsea, Moussa Sissoko could be well on his way to accomplishing a lot more than that.
All stats from WhoScored.com
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