Southampton supporters have been pretty downbeat in recent times after seeing their side miss the chance to record a second Premier League win of the season at the weekend.
Mark Hughes’ men went into their clash with Watford at St Mary’s off the back of losing 6-1 to champions Manchester City in their preceding league encounter, a result which left them with just seven points from their opening 11 matches. And while they didn’t get the win at St Mary’s on Saturday, they did at least add to their point’s tally in drawing 1-1 with the Hornets, with Jose Holebas’ late effort cancelling out Manolo Gabbiadini’s opener to secure a point for the visitors.
Thus, there have been many dissatisfied Saints fans up and down the country in recent times, several of whom are likely to be intrigued with recent comments from The Guardian’s Simon Burnton, who has labelled Southampton’s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg as one of the Premier League’s most underrated players.
And while Burnton does rightly suggest that Hughes’ men have been ‘wildly unimpressive’ this term so far, he then goes on to say that ‘if any of their players has emerged from their first couple of months in credit it is Hojbjerg’ – and he is absolutely spot on to underline the midfielder as the rare bright spark in an otherwise woeful start to the season from the South Coast outfit.
Ultimately, the 23-year-old made the move to St Mary’s back in the summer of 2016 as the Saints sought to replace Victor Wanyama in the middle of the park, what with the Kenya international moving to Tottenham ten days prior to Hojbjerg’s arrival.
And the former Bayern Munich star was a regular feature in Claude Puel’s team that season with 35 appearances under his belt in all competitions, only for his game time to reduce under Mauricio Pellegrino last time round, with the Denmark international finishing the campaign with just 19 Premier League starts to his name.
And that struggle for first team football threatened to take place again this term given he was left on the bench for the opening two league matches, only for Hojbjerg to since then produce the goods in the heart of the Saints midfield with appearances in all but one of their ten league games since then.
In fact, the 23-year-old scored crucial goals in victory over Crystal Palace and the 2-2 draw with Brighton back in September to help get Hughes’ men build some momentum – this all after a frankly pathetic dive, rightly labelled ‘embarrassing’ by Burnton, against Leicester at the start of the month.
However, as Burnton outlines in his piece, the Dane has improved various areas of his game this term, not least his pass success rate which has gone up from 85% to 86.9%, alongside the fact he has already made 24 tackles this term and managed just 45 overall last time round – while Southampton are clearly struggling, Hojbjerg does appear to be getting to grips with English football.
And while Hughes’ side are shipping goals and finding it difficult to score them at the other end, at least 23-year-old Hojbjery is shining in the middle of the park – Burnton is right to note the Denmark international as a rare bright spark in an otherwise ‘wildly unimpressive’ Southampton season.
Southampton fans… what do you think? Let us know!
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