This article is part of Football FanCast’s In Numbers series, which takes a statistical look at performances, season-long form and reported transfer targets…
If a player is only being handed his first league start of the season eight games into the campaign, then that usually suggests the player in question isn’t considered a first-team regular.
That much is true of Southampton’s Shane Long.
The former West Brom and Hull forward was handed a first Premier League start of the season by Ralph Hasenhuttl against Chelsea, but was unfortunately a passenger on a day where the Saints were humiliated in front of their own fans.
At 32 years of age now, the 82-cap Republic of Ireland international presumably won’t get too many chances to shine this season with Danny Ings and Che Adams around, while Nathan Redmond could also potentially play upfront when Moussa Djenepo returns.
With competition such as that within the squad, Long must take his chances to impress when they come – sadly for him, he didn’t do that against the Blues.
Of course, Chelsea would always be tough opponents to impress against – Frank Lampard’s men had won three in a row before their 4-1 victory at St Mary’s.
However, Long could’ve done better.
He failed to have a single shot, let alone one on target, while also making zero key passes.
Long also managed to complete just 46.7% of his 15 passes throughout his 72 minutes on the pitch, the second-lowest success rate of any outfield player behind goalscorer Tammy Abraham.
The experienced forward also ran offside once, and you wouldn’t blame Hasenhuttl for bringing Adams back into the fold after the international break on the basis of Long’s ineffective performance.
When chances in the team are as few and far between as they currently are for Long, he must take them when they arise – disappointingly, he could not do that against Chelsea.