The #9 jersey is something special on Tyneside. It is "the shirt of legends". Traditionally, it is worn by a player who is not just a good goal scorer, but one who is among the deadliest strikers in the league. Papiss Cisse certainly fits that description, as he's amazed crowds with his shots and has racked up 21 goals in 54 appearances for Newcastle United.
But this year, he's looked downright ordinary. Through four games, in which Newcastle was won 2, drawn once, and lost once, he's appeared on the score sheet once: an assist against Aston Villa on Hatem Ben Arfa's goal. One assist does not a #9 make, so should we be worried?
Cisse did have five shots on Saturday, though only one was on target. He was offsides three times, in what might ironically be an encouraging sign. Cisse is fast, and Alan Pardew seems to love to try and spring him. Think back to last year when he had several goals incorrectly disallowed for being offsides. He likes to play close to the offsides line, and many of his goals come from him being just a fraction quicker than a defender. With play-makers Yohan Cabaye and Ben Arfa healthy and in the fold, its possible that it is only a matter of time.
Cisse is showing signs of coming out of his shell. He had one shot in the opening two games of the year (against Manchester City) In the win against Fulham, he got off six shots, two of which were on target. Much like Ben Arfa's constant shooting (8 shots in the first two games) has come to pay dividends, perhaps too will Cisse's shooting. His shots must be of better quality, and he must trouble the keeper more than he has, but Cisse may open his Premier League account soon.
If one wants to be comforted, you can look to his international play. Cisse has scored four goals in six games in the second round of CAF World Cup Qualifying, leading Senegal to a top of the table finish in Group J. In June, he scored a brace against Liberia, one of the goals coming from the penalty spot. It would be unfair to say that his goal scoring touch has left him, when he has been playing well for country.
Another issue to contend with is that of Loic Remy. Remy hasn't played much this year, making his starting debut on Saturday against Aston Villa. He's provided a good spark to the offense and has shown to be able to stretch the field. As he and Cisse develop a chemistry, the goals will come, and Cisse will get his fair share. Perhaps he will find the back of the net this weekend against Hull City, unleashing something spectacular that will make us forget his opening four games. I feel as if he'll begin scoring soon, how about you?