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Arsenal can lay down a marker

Arsenal
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By ESPN Staff

Pardew delighted with Cisse

Manager Alan Pardew was thrilled to see his big-money investment pay off at the first opportunity as Papiss Cisse fired Newcastle to victory over Aston Villa on his debut.

• Newcastle 2-1 Aston Villa

Senegal striker Cisse came off the bench to clinch the points that took the Magpies back into fifth place in the Premier League table and fully justified Pardew's faith in him.

Cisse cost the club approaching £10 million when he joined from Freiburg last month, and he could hardly have launched his career in England in better fashion.

Pardew said: "In my career, I have been lucky with strikers in debuts, and that's struck again today. I am really pleased because it's a big investment for the club.

"While Mike [Ashley] sanctioned it and Mike is the owner and [managing director] Derek [Llambias] had to see the deal through, it's fans' money. I have got to spend fans' money here - if we don't get anyone coming into the stadium, we haven't got any money, so I like to spend it well.

"We have worked hard on that, we have taken our time and we hope we got it right. He has had a great start today, [but] that's all at the moment."

Cisse claimed the headlines in spectacular style with a fine 71st-minute strike - a fitting way to end a hard-fought encounter which might have gone either way.

Newcastle had taken a 30th-minute lead, against the run of play, when Demba Ba drilled home his 16th goal of the season from close range, but Robbie Keane levelled deep into first-half stoppage time and Villa might have snatched a point at the death but for fine saves from Tim Krul to deny first Ciaran Clark and then substitute Gary Gardner.

Pardew said he had not intended to pitch Cisse into battle so quickly, but was delighted with his response, and the way in which he linked up with international team-mate Ba.

He said: "People are under a misapprehension that they have this partnership that's formed - it's not, they have hardly played together - but they are going to complement each other well because Papiss wants to go in behind and Demba wants to come short, so you have got a nice balance there, as Villa's balance was nice today too.

"If you are going to wear that jersey at Newcastle, you need a good start, and he [Cisse] has had that. It was boys' annual stuff - that goal, but his all-round performance... any Newcastle fan would have been nudging their mates and saying, 'We have got a good 'un here, he looks all right'.''

Villa boss Alex McLeish was pleased with much of his side's performance, but unhappy with the goals they conceded, although he insisted he had not withdrawn midfielder Stephen Ireland at half-time after he had reacted angrily to his manager's suggestion that he might have done better for Ba's goal.

The Scot said: "I know he spoke back, but at the same time, players don't like to hear the manager screaming at them from the touchline, but I kick every ball with them, I am passionate, I care and I wouldn't be so petty to take a player off for something like that if he is doing a fantastic job.

"Stevie had an ankle problem. He wasn't able to close down and that was it."

Newcastle's victory came at a cost, however, with Ryan Taylor being carried off on a stretcher with a nasty shin injury, although X-rays have shown no break, while Best damaged medial ligaments.

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