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Moussa Sissoko Has Been Key to Newcastle United’s Upturn

When Moussa Sissoko burst into the English Premier League in January of 2013, it seemed the competition had welcomed a new superstar. A powerhouse display in his second outing for the club – scoring the equalizing and winning goals in a 3-2 win over Chelsea – announced his arrival in English football.

Unfortunately for the former Toulouse midfielder, his fortunes mirrored those of a struggling side as that season progressed, Newcastle United suffering heavy defeats at home to bitter rivals Sunderland and then Liverpool. Sissoko started both of those matches, looking a shadow of himself.

That’s not to say that Sissoko has performed poorly in his one-and-a-half seasons on Tyneside. On the contrary, the Frenchman has still produced moments of brilliance that have won matches (a long-range strike against West Brom last season being an example).

But there has always been the sense that the hugely talented midfielder has not fulfilled his potential, as had been expected after that stunning performance against Chelsea.

Thankfully for Newcastle, Sissoko is beginning to return to his best form this season.

Indeed, he managed to score the winning goal against Manchester City in the Capital One Cup, coming off the bench to seal a wonderful 2-0 win. Sissoko repeated the trick last weekend against QPR, showing predatory instinct inside the box as his late snapshot secured another vital win.

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has gradually returned Sissoko to a central midfield berth and it has been a key factor in the club’s five-match winning streak in the Premier League. Immediately the team has begun to look more organized and assured, with Sissoko bringing a drive and purpose that was conspicuously lacking.

The 25-year-old is a world class player on his day, combining pace, power and technique. These qualities have all been on display in the last few matches, with his ability to contribute both on and off the ball crucial.

Sissoko has visibly lifted his teammates at important points in matches, specializing in winning individual duels and earning respite for his teammates when they are under pressure. The partnership he has struck up with Jack Colback in the centre of the park has been impressive and the two have complimented each other superbly.

“Maybe this is the best football of my career, it’s true at the moment … I’m playing well and happy,” Sissoko told the Northern Echo recently.

His nomination for the PFA Fans’ player of the month award for November also speaks volumes. That same list of nominees includes names such as Sergio Aguero, Alexis Sanchez and Eden Hazard.

Given the captain’s armband against QPR in the absence of Fabricio Coloccini, Sissoko proved his importance to the club and he will likely lead the team out at West Ham at the weekend.

And after a midweek trip to Burnley, Chelsea will arrive at St James’ Park next Saturday and it would be wholly appropriate if the midfielder produced another match-winning display, barely two years after his stunning introduction to English soccer.

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