You wait for a home goal all season, and then four turn up at once. While that take on the cliche may veer towards the exaggerative, Southampton did almost double their Premier League home tally for the campaign against Everton on Sunday, scoring four to take it to 10. Mauricio Pellergino’s side had managed just three goals in their previous five top flight meetings at St. Mary’s.
While much was owed to arguably the most shambolic form Everton have produced throughout their 25 years in the Premier League, striker Charlie Austin played an equally pivotal hand – netting twice in the space of six minutes to firstly regain the lead after Gylfi Sigurdsson’s equaliser and then give his side a convincing foothold in the match.
The former non-league man may not be the most gifted all-round footballer, but he is without a doubt an incredibly clinical finisher. In addition to notching up two carbon-copy headers, the 28-year-old hit the post in the first-half with a close-range half volley that clipped the wrong side of the woodwork. Likewise, providing further evidence of his predatory instincts, Austin touched the ball eight times in Everton’s box before being subbed off upon the 80th minute.
Great news for Austin and Southampton fans, then, but it all begs the question of why it’s taken until the 13th game of the new Premier League season for Austin to get his first start. Converting chances has been Southampton’s biggest weakness under Pellegrino, ranking seventh in the Premier League for chances created before this weekend but 15th for goals scored, and the QPR man is renowned for his finishing ability – to the extent that it took him just an hour to find the net twice on Sunday.
At this point in the season and especially considering Southampton’s upcoming run includes Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United before the new year, overlooking Austin in favour of Manolo Gabbiadini and Shane Long, during 12 games in which his side picked up just 13 points, feels like a wasted opportunity for Pellegrino. With pressure still on the new boss who hasn’t convinced everybody at St. Mary’s, that could still cost him dearly.