x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Tale of two Cisses in Premier League

The QPR striker comes up with excuses for his moment of madness while Newcastle's new boy scores a cracker. Thomas Woods reviews the best and worst from the weekend's action.

Newcastle United's Papiss Cisse, left, celebrates scoring with Demba Ba against Aston Villa during their English Premier League in Newcastle.
Newcastle United's Papiss Cisse, left, celebrates scoring with Demba Ba against Aston Villa during their English Premier League in Newcastle.

Best debut - Cisse

Papiss Demba Cisse is Newcastle United's new centre-forward, following a reported £10 million (Dh57.5m) move from German side Freiburg.

In two seasons in the Bundesliga, he netted at a rate of more than one goal every two games. In the Premier League he has a 100 per cent strike rate after a cracking finish to earn all three points for Newcastle against Aston Villa yesterday.

After Demba Ba, Cisse's strike partner for Senegal, had got his name on the score sheet early one, the Newcastle new boy, wearing No 9, controlled a Jonas Gutierrez cross and smashed an unstoppable half-volley into the top corner with his left foot.

What a way to announce yourself to your new fans.

Worst excuse - Cisse

From one Cisse to another. Djibril Cisse ruined all his great work, after scoring on his QPR debut in midweek, by getting himself sent off in his first home game for the club, against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The French striker objected to a challenge by Roger Johnson, shoved the centre-back in the chest and then grabbed him around the throat. His red card came with QPR leading 1-0, but they ended up losing 2-1.

Like any self-respecting modern-day footballer, Cisse took to Twitter to apologise for his moment of madness, adding: "I have to say that the tackle was very dangerous and he could of [sic] break my leg and after 2 legs break I felt scared and I reacted like this"

Except that, Johnson's tackle was not particularly dangerous and both of Cisse's leg breaks came as the result of freak incidents. He caught his studs in the turf for Liverpool against Blackburn Rovers in 2004 and lost his balance playing for France against China in 2006.

The bottom line is that there is no excuse for a footballer raising his hands to another's face, knowing that it results in an automatic red card. And how important those dropped three points might be for QPR come the end of the campaign.

Best technique - Mata

Juan Mata has not grabbed as many headlines this season as his fellow World Cup winners David Silva (for all the right reasons) and Fernando Torres (for mostly wrong reasons), but his impact after moving to Chelsea from Valencia has been significant.

Mata has more assists this season than any other player - even Manchester City's Silva - but yesterday he demonstrated his goalscoring ability too.

Torres, who still has not ended his Chelsea goal drought, at least created yesterday in the 3-3 draw with Manchester United with a wicked cross from right to left that landed perfectly on the left foot of Mata.

And the Spaniard's finish was even better than the assist. He blasted the dropping ball first time on the volley past a helpless David De Gea. It was a lesson to wannabe footballers everywhere on how to to volley a football.

Worst mistake - Howard

Such is the life of a goalkeeper that one minute you are the hero and the next you are zero.

Tim Howard, the Everton stopper, scored with a "shot" from his own penalty area against Bolton Wanderers a few weeks ago. The ball took a freak bounce to fool Adam Bogdan, the Bolton keeper, and sailed well over his head and into the net.

Howard did not celebrate, knowing that his goal was down to luck, rather than skill

Yesterday at Wigan Athletic, he was on the wrong end of another freak bounce, as a cross deflected off Phil Neville, his captain, wrong-footing the American and then spinning like a Saeed Ajmal delivery into the back of the net.

It will go down as one of the howlers of the season, but at the same time, it wasn't really Howard's fault.

Best morale boost - Arsenal

Sometimes results can define a season, other times they are forgotten in the grand scheme of things.

Arsenal's results this campaign could not be more varied. From 8-2 and 4-3 defeats in the opening two months, to a 5-3 win at Chelsea and Saturday's 7-1 thumping of sorry Blackburn.

And now, despite dissent from some sections of the Arsenal support, inconsistent results and eight defeats already, the Gunners are just three points off a Champions League place.

Their goal difference has been given a huge boost too and confidence will be sky high going into the final third of the season with Robin van Persie grabbing another hat-trick and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain emerging as a star in the making.

If Arsenal have clinched a Champions League spot come May, manager Arsene Wenger will look back at this 7-1 win as an important moment and the 8-2 loss at Old Trafford will be confined to the history books.