Southampton’s stellar run of form continued with a 3-1 win over a lacklustre Wolves at the weekend, with goals from Nathan Redmond (2) and Shane Long enough to ensure that all three points remained at St Mary’s Stadium.
Long’s sudden return to form was hardly the biggest talking point of the day, though, with Redmond finally able to apply the lethal finishing touch(es) that his high-energy performances have been missing in 2019.
Make no mistake, the former Norwich man has been fantastic under Ralph Hasenhuttl, as have many of his teammates, but he has struggled to strike consistency in front of goal, with just three league goals to his name in 32 appearances prior to Saturday.
It seems like the winger has had ‘potential’ for a while now and, at 25-years-old, should be reaching his peak in the next couple of seasons, although he will have to register far more performances of the calibre he produced against Wolves if he is to do that.
A brace was enough to earn the speedster a spot in Garth Crooks’ team of the week and the BBC pundit praised his performance while simultaneously expressing his frustration at Redmond’s major shortcoming.
“This lad scored his seventh and eighth goals of the season in the victory again Wolves – another team suffering from an FA Cup semi-final hangover – but it should have been his 17th and 18th.
“Redmond has all the right pieces of the jigsaw but sadly not all in the right places. Ability, pace and vision are essential components of any forward but if Redmond could add finishing with any kind of regularity to his repertoire then he’d be at a top four club.”
Indeed, the number 22 gets into all the right places and does all the hard work creating the chance for himself or others but cannot find the end product often enough.
However, his display last Saturday showed how lethal he can be when he’s got his shooting boots on – if he can bring them more often then he’d become a real threat for the Saints and perhaps even land himself on the radar of some of England’s top clubs, as Crooks says.
Presently, Redmond finds himself trying to make the same improvements to his game which Raheem Sterling has had to on his way to becoming one of the first names on the team sheet at Manchester City.
The England international, who also netted twice at the weekend, had all three of the attributes which Crooks applied to Redmond – ability, pace and vision – but couldn’t get the goals his hard work deserved. Now though, the wide man is one of the best in Europe in his position and is in with a shout for the PFA Player of the Year gong.
Sterling is an expert at getting into the right places, creating that extra yard of space between he and his man before receiving the ball and then he’s either gone in a flash or it’s in the back of the net.
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The intelligent number 7 is reaping the rewards of Pep Guardiola’s system, which plays to his positional strengths, in a similar way that Redmond is flourishing under Hasenhuttl’s high-tempo approach.
Instructed to hunt down defenders relentlessly, the 5 ft 8 Southampton ace’s speed and tenacity will inevitably get him into more goal-scoring positions so, if he is to become the player that Crooks thinks he can, he must start taking them with the frequency Sterling does.