It feels like yesterday that it was August and the Premier League season was just getting underway. Already, though, we find ourselves near the halfway mark of the Premier League campaign. At this time, some clubs are focused on maintaining their spot at the top of the table. For others, like Southampton, it’s at this point in the season that clubs begin to evaluate their early failures as well as take some time to try and plot their way out of the relegation battle.
Taking a look back at early failures. Seeing what did and what didn’t work. This time also presents clubs with a needed chance to try and plot a way out of the relegation battle. No matter where you find yourself in the table, this is a time to assess all that has been.
Looking back on the first half of the season, clubs begin to break down players’ performances. Evaluating just which players failed to impress as well as which players took full advantage of their opportunities.
Taking a look back at the first half of the campaign, let’s take some time and focus on what went right for Southampton. With new manager Ralph Hasenhuttl already impressing, let’s take a look at who he may rely on for the remainder of the campaign. Despite a rough first half, there were some bright spots. Here are some of Southampton’s overachieving players from the first half of the season.
Southampton’s Overachievers from the First Half of the Season
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg – Midfielder
Seeing a red card during Saints’ home match against Leicester City earlier this season, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg looked like a doomed man. The target of much anger following that match, the Danish midfielder had hit a major crossroad in his Southampton career.
Fortunately, Hojbjerg negotiated that crossroad with grace and composure. Moving on from that incident, he has quickly risen to be one of Southampton’s best players. Named as captain for the last few matches, the 23-year-old has become a major contributor both in defence as well as in attack.
Having scored two goals from the midfield this season, Hojbjerg is without a doubt Southampton’s best player right now. A major overachiever, Hojbjerg is finally nearing his potential. Without a doubt, Hojbjerg will have a major impact on whether or not Southampton can avoid relegation at the end of this season. If he keeps playing as well as he has, his presence will be an extremely welcome one for Southampton.
Nathan Redmond – Winger
Entering the season, some supporters began to wonder just how good Nathan Redmond really was. A topsy-turvy type player, Redmond had produced a combination of masterclasses and absolute duds over his previous two seasons. Entering his third year at the club, this was poised to be a hugely important season for Redmond. Would he finally break through and perform?
You bet he did. Becoming a reliable presence in the Southampton starting eleven, Redmond became a true threat at the attacking end of the pitch. While he doesn’t possess the goal tally that would show this, Redmond has been the main chance creator for Saints this season.
Playing down the left-hand side of the pitch, Redmond’s emergence was one of the few bright spots early in the season. Under new manager Ralph Hasenhuttl, though, Redmond has gone to another level. Performing extremely well over the last two matches, Redmond finally found the back of the net against Huddersfield. A sign of things to come? Based on his performance this season, it would look as though it is. Look for Redmond to continue to climb to new heights as the rest of the season unfolds.
Danny Ings – Forward
Joining from Liverpool on an initial loan with an intention to make the move permanent next summer, Danny Ings has been a saviour for the South Coast club. A former youth player for Southampton, Ings has revitalized his career this season. Following three long years at Liverpool where Ings made just 25 appearances, the Hampshire-born man has already appeared in 14 matches for Saints this season.
Adding to this, of course, is the fact that Ings has scored eight goals in all competitions this year. This all comes despite the fact that Ings recently missed about two weeks due to injury. No one can argue with the fact that Ings has been an extremely important player for Southampton this season.
That said, while Ings always possessed the ability to play like this, the reason he makes this list is simply because of his time at Liverpool. After all, the small number of minutes he saw over the last three years can break almost anyone. The fact that Ings came to Southampton and immediately found his form and goal-scoring touch says a lot about him and allows him to join this list of overachievers.
Michael Obafemi – Forward
A bonus selection here, Michael Obafemi has quickly become favourite on the South Coast. At only 18-and-a-half-years-old, Obafemi is now Saints youngest Premier League goalscorer thanks to his goal from the match at Huddersfield. Moreso, Obafemi’s 2018 also saw him earn his first cap with the Irish national team. Extremely pacy and a perfect fit for Hasenhuttl’s press system, the young Obafemi looks like he will be a force in this Southampton side for years to come.
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