Southampton have struggled this season, particularly in front of goal.
In 12 games in all competitions, they have netted just nine times, including two home penalties.
Saints have a number of great options up front this season but there is a real lack of cutting edge, which has been ever present since the times under Claude Puel last season.
What’s gone wrong?
In Shane Long, Charlie Austin and Manolo Gabbiadini, Saints have got some great forward options but between them, the three have collectively just scored four goals so far, which is a real worry going forward.
The Saints face all of last season’s top seven in the space of the next couple of months and getting back on track in front of goal is going to be vital if there is going to be an improvement to the results.
All three are good players but it seems as though there is no clear mindset or philosophy set out from the manager in the type of football which he wants or is trying to play this season.
In addition, the fixtures have been kind for Saints having had seven of their opening 11 matches at home, with just four away. They have also only faced one top team in Manchester United which ironically was probably the best performance from the Saints this season.
What needs to change?
For the most part of this season, Saints have played with just one striker up top and the chances created have been the second lowest in the league, only above Crystal Palace who have been woeful this season. Many fans have been crying out for Mauricio Pellegrino to play two up top on a regular basis.
The best combination for this would be Long and Gabbiadini, as the pair compliment each other well and when the two have played together, they have been effective.
Perhaps also a change of formation may be needed in order to help the goals start to flow again. Changing to a 5-3-2 formation would allow for Saints to be much more compact at the back and able to find width from their full-backs, Cedric Soares and Ryan Bertrand, who are both capable at both ends of the pitch.
Missing Mane and Pelle
Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle both left the club in the summer of 2016 and ever since, the number of goals that the club have scored has been on the decline. In the pair’s final season at the club, they both netted double figure tallies as Saints finished in 6th position in the Premier League, scoring 59 goals in total compared to just 41 last season.
The duo brought so much to the team and are players who the club really haven’t replaced since their departures. Mane brings penetration and drive every time he plays and is a defender’s nightmare.
As for Pelle, he was vital to Saints in his spell at the club. His hold up play and link up play was exceptional and contributed to plenty of goals. He played an integral part in the couple of seasons he spent at the club.
Dusan Tadic was someone who played really well alongside both Pelle and Mane and he really hasn’t been the same since the pair left. His performances haven’t been good enough this season and his form is a real concern.
Players need to step up for Saints, but perhaps a systematic change is the best option in order to remedy the team’s misfiring ways.