MOUSSA Sissoko’s dusted himself off after his bruising Newcastle United debut – and is ready to take the fight to Chelsea.
The midfielder will make his home bow against Rafa Benitez’s side tomorrow.
Sissoko impressed on his first appearance for the club at Villa Park on Tuesday night.
Newcastle beat Aston Villa 2-1 to move four points clear of the Premier League’s relegation zone.
And Sissoko, having relished his first experience of the pace and power of English football, is looking forward to making his first appearance at a sold-out St James’s Park.
What’s more, he believes United can claim another three points.
“I can’t wait to play at home in front of the huge support we have here,” Sissoko said.
“It will be fantastic. It’s going to be a good match. We’ve worked really hard. It’s an important game for us.
“Chelsea is a massive club – they won the Champions League – but I also believe that Newcastle has the players to compete with Chelsea at that level and win the game.”
Sissoko, used to the slower-paced French league, tired during the frantic second half at Villa Park.
However, the 23-year-old, signed from French club Toulouse last week for £1.8m, believes it won’t take him long to get fully up to speed.
“It’s very different to the French league – there’s a lot more intensity,” added Sissoko. “The ball goes from one end to the other very quickly.
“Physically, it’s also very demanding. There are a lot of duels and head-to-head battles in the Premier League.
“People put their foot in a lot more here, but I’ve often watched Premier League matches, and I knew what to expect. I think I was ready for it. It was a good match.
“I was quite tired at the end, but that’s normal. I’ll definitely get used to the pace of the Premier League.”
Sissoko set up Papiss Demba Cisse’s opening goal against Villa, and he says he was “proud” to have played his part in the club’s first away win in eight months.
He and his team-mates went to the away end after the final whistle, where several French flags were being waved by fans.
“I was absolutely delighted,” he said. “First of all, the manager (Alan Pardew) trusted me, which was good. I went out to do my very best.
“I think I played a good match, but most importantly the team played a good match.
“To come away with three points was fantastic. I was fantastic to see so many supporters, and get such good support from them.
“To see some of them waving the French flag was brilliant. It shows that they’re really supporting us.
“It was a great match. I was very proud to play and help Newcastle.
“But now Aston Villa is over, and we’re focusing all our efforts on Chelsea, which will be a huge game.”
The Chelsea game will see Demba Ba return to St James’s Park, and stopping the striker is a priority for Pardew and his players, who know all too well how clinical he is in front of goal.
“Obviously, it will be quite difficult for Demba coming back to his old club,” said Sissoko.
“Going back to your old club is something special. We’re hoping that he’s not on top form, as he usually is.
“But we need to focus on our own game. We need to focus on winning, and the way we’re going to play, rather than the opposition or Demba Ba.”