Apr 8, 2012

Papiss Demba Cisse: the best goalscoring start in the history of NUFC?

Papiss Cisse awayPapiss Cisse’s impressive 9 goals in his first 8 Premier League games has brought comparisons with Newcastle strikers of old, most notably Andy Cole, but how does his goal return compare to that of other top Newcastle goalscorers from their first 8 league games for the club?

Upon joining Newcastle from Freiburg in the January transfer window, for a fee believed to be in the region of 8-10 million pounds, Papiss Cisse’s goalscoring impact has been instant.  It is an oft-trotted out line by managers and pundits that ‘players need time to adapt to their new club’s style of play’, often when defending the latest 35 or 50 million pound misfiring striker, but thankfully this wasn’t the case with Cisse.

Having scored 87 goals in 203 games prior to joining Newcastle, Papiss Cisse has continued his fine goalscoring record and wasted little time in demonstrating what it was that convinced the club he was worth pursuing and worth investing in.

In fact, the Senegalese International took only 57 minutes to open his Premier League account as he appeared off the substitutes’ bench to score a stunning match-winner in Newcastle’s 2-1 victory over Aston Villa in February.  7 games later, Cisse has maintained his remarkable goals-per-minutes strike rate which currently stands at a goal every 66 minutes.

Following Newcastle’s 2-0 victory at Swansea on Good Friday, in which Cisse scored his 8th and 9th goals for Newcastle, SKY displayed a table which showed Cisse’s goal return in comparison with other strikers from their first 8 Premier League games:

PlayerGamesGoalsClubSeason
Micky Quinn810Coventry City1992-93
Papiss Cisse89Newcastle United2011-12
Sergio Aguero89Manchester City2011-12
Mark Viduka89Leeds United2000-01
Alan Shearer88Blackburn Rovers1992-93
Kevin Phillips88Sunderland1999-00
Franceso Baiano88Derby County1997-98

As can be seen from the table, Cisse’s 9 goals from his first 8 Premier League games is on a par with the goalscoring starts made by Mark Viduka and Sergio Aguero, and is only bettered by former Newcastle man Micky Quinn, who bounced off the ground to score 10 in his first 8 for Coventry City.

Although SKY would have us believe otherwise, football didn’t begin in 1992 and, especially given the references to Andy Cole, I was intrigued to find out how Cisse’s start compared to that of other top Newcastle marksmen from their first 8 league games for the club.

After trawling through ‘Newcastle United: The Ultimate Record’, these are the findings: alongside Cisse, there are 8 other players who have averaged at least a goal a game in their first 8 starts:

PlayerGamesGoalsSeason
Hughie Gallacher8131925-26
Micky Quinn8101989-90
Papiss Cisse892011-12
Les Ferdinand881995-96
Richard Smellie881896-97
Ronald Williams881933-34
Henry Clifton881938-39
Len Shackleton881946-47
Ivor Allchurch881958-59

As can be seen from the table above, after 8 league games of his Newcastle career, Cisse’s goal return is only bettered by Hughie Gallacher and Cisse’s arch-nemesis Micky Quinn.

Other notable Newcastle strikers worth mentioning, but who didn’t quite get off to as quick a start as Cisse, are:

NameGamesGoalsSeason
Andy Cole871992-93
Michael Owen872005-06
Kevin Keegan871982-83
Alan Shearer851996-97
Demba Ba852011-12
Malcolm MacDonald841971-72
Peter Beardsley841984-85
Len White801952-54

Newcastle’s second highest scorer of all time – Jackie Milburn – joined the club in 1943 during the second World War. Up until the 1946-47 season, before the second division fixture list returned to normality, Newcastle and Milburn played in the Wartime League. As such, he has not been included in the findings.

Like Andy Cole, Cisse looks to have a natural finisher’s instinct in front of goal and it’s not surprising that the comparisons are being made; however, whereas Cole played the majority of his football in and around the opposition’s penalty area, Cisse looks to have a better all-round game.

Already in his short Newcastle career, Cisse has shown that he possesses an excellent first touch, intelligent link-up play and good movement; as well as an ability to lead the line, hold the ball up and carry out his defensive duties with minimal fuss.

He scores with his left (Aston Villa), with his right (Swansea) and with his head (Liverpool), as well as scoring instinctive goals (Norwich) and sublime chipped efforts (Swansea). Given the chance, he will, more often than not, take it.

Of course, unlike the team colours, the findings above aren’t necessarily black and white. There are a whole range of variables which stats alone can’t account for: form, injuries, chances presented, team-mate quality, opponents faced, etc. Nor do stats take into account that players will have joined the club at different stages in their career – some rose through the ranks, whereas others joined as already proven scorers – or that they may have converted to a striker from another position.

Papiss Cisse homeThere is also the possibility that Cisse could go the remaining 6 games of the season without scoring, which would see him ranked lower in a table showing the goals-per-game ratio of Newcastle strikers after 14 games. However, stripping it down to the hard statistics show how well Cisse has taken to his new role as Newcastle’s number 9.  At this stage, after his first 8 league games, he is the 3rd most prolific goalscorer in Newcastle’s history.

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