After nearly making it to the Champions League last season, Newcastle expected a better start than nine points from the first six matches. Most of those point have been achieved thanks to Demba Ba, scoring six goals in the first six matches of the season.
Should it be surprising that the 27 year old Senegalese striker is leading the Premier League scoring charts? Not really. He doesn’t put the ball in the net at the same pace as the best strikers and finishers in the world, but Ba has been a scorer wherever he’s been – Rouen in France, Mouscron in Belgium, Hoffenheim in Germany (37 goals in 97 matches), West Ham (7 in 12) and Newcastle for a season and a bit (22 in 40).
It seems that he and Papiss Cisse can’t co-exist, at least when it comes to goals. Ba thrived during the first half of last season, but hardly found the net after his Senegal partner joined, while Cisse scored in nearly every match he played for Newcastle during the second half of the season. This year, it’s turned – Ba has scored six goals in four of the six matches, while Cisse, who has started in all six matches for the Magpies, has failed to find the net once so far.
Something about trying to replicate last season’s formula without tweaking anything is causing some glitches in the machine, but Newcastle can feel happy about two things – losing only once in the early goings, less than Manchester United, and Ba’s form, scoring 75% of the team’s goals so far. And there’s always the chance he’ll be leaving in January.
Before his brace against Reading, it looked like problems were brewing up north. Ba wants a better contract, or simply has an agent that’s telling him he can play for bigger and better. As clinical as Ba is in the box, it’s hard seeing him playing a substantial role for any big club, in England or the rest of Europe. He’s very one dimensional, and feeds off long balls, which isn’t a style most top clubs embrace. He’s not the kind of striker who can show an added dimension of dropping back and building attacks. He’s got at what he does, but isn’t very flexible at it.
Players who move around a lot usually mean one of two thins – Someone who’s playing for too-small-for-their-size teams, quickly moving up the scales, or troublemakers who don’t fit in or have greedy agents. There’s something very special, finally, being built at Newcastle, with that insane 8 year extension they gave Alan Pardew. As of now, Ba, along with his national team partner, are the biggest and most important part of its success. It’s a shame if he would leave the project halfway, for having someone putting the wrong ideas in his head.