With just 12 goals conceded in their opening 11 Premier League games of the season, Southampton boast a better defensive record than a number of clubs currently above them in the league table such as West Ham United, Arsenal and Manchester United among others.
Taking this into account, one player, in particular, that we feel has significantly contributed to Southampton’s fairly sturdy defence this season is Mohammed Salisu.
The 22-year-old has played the full 90 minutes in all but one of Southampton league games so far this season, highlighting just how important he has been for Ralph Hasenhuttl, especially in the absence of fellow Saints defender Jack Stephens who picked up a serious knee injury during their 0-0 draw against Manchester City back in September.
Southampton signed the defender back in August 2020 from Spanish club Real Valladolid in a deal worth a reported fee of £10.9m.
During his time on the pitch this season in the Premier League, Salisu, who has been described as “nasty” in terms of his defensive tenacity by Hasenhuttl, has made 24 tackles overall, with an average of 2.5 interceptions per game and 3.8 clearances per game, highlighting how active he has been at the back for the Saints as Hasenhuttl’s secret weapon with Stephens out on the sidelines.
In addition to his defensive contributions, Salisu’s overall performances in the league have earned him an overall season rating of 7.1/10, making him Southampton’s highest-rated player according to WhoScored, higher than club captain James Ward-Prowse, who has two goals under his belt this season.
Looking at this season compared to the previous one that saw Salisu struggle with injuries and started just eight out of the 12 league games he appeared in, it’s safe to say this season has been a much better one for the 22-year-old than the last one was, which should be very encouraging for everyone at St. Mary’s.
Moving forward, if Salisu can keep this impressive form up for as long as he can throughout the remainder of the season, he could well push them to a top-half finish if the players ahead of him on the pitch can do their bit in front of goal on a regular basis.