Moussa Sissoko may have taken a different tack in defense of his steadfast insistence that he is a Champions League midfielder this past weekend against Norwich City. For once, it was not another expression of the vocalized "I'm a Champions League Midfielder Get Me Out Of Here!" variety. It remains to be seen whether Sissoko's performance constitutes an actual breakthrough for the undeniably talented Frenchman or whether it will turn out as another outlier in the largely indifferent performances that constitute the bulk of his time at St. James' Park, but it will be one that could redefine what he is in a black and white shirt.
It would not at all be going out on a limb to say that the three assist performance is far and away his best performance for Newcastle United. Sure there have been good ones (Arsenal and Chelsea spring to mind without taxing the brain) while he does deserve blame for at least one of Norwich's goals. Ultimately, however, this is the first time that you could have watched Sissoko when he is playing for France and Sissoko when playing for the Toon and been able to say with a straight face "That is the same dude." In fact, he was almost Cabaye-esque in his vision of the field in this match. Each of his assists were sublime in nature and exhibited everything you want to see from a player like Sissoko – vision, touch, finesse – basically everything we don't see from him on a frustratingly consistent basis.
Although there will be lasting questions regarding who should have closed the crossing player down on both Norwich goals, Sissoko still led the team in blocked crosses (2) and ball recoveries (8), completed the most take-ons (albeit at a 50% success rate) and drew the joint most fouls in the match alongside Gini Wijnaldum. It will likely never be known whether this has come from within Sissoko (finally) or whether this is a Steve Black Motivational Moment Of Brilliance™ (it's possible every time he could get close, he whispered "Arsenal" in Moussa's ear) but either way, if we can get a repeat performance this weekend during the Derby, it would be an excellent first step towards reversing our current abysmal run against the makems.