Claude Puel’s Southampton prepared for the League Cup final next week with a thumping 4-0 victory over Sunderland last weekend.
The Saints had lost six of their preceding seven Premier League games, but were in complete control against David Moyes’ struggling Black Cats as soon as new signing Manolo Gabbiadini gave them a first half lead.
The Italian international bagged a second just before the break to give them a cushion, and a second half strike from Shane Long, as well as an own goal from Jason Denayer, gave the Saints a comprehensive victory, and the perfect preparation for next weekend’s Wembley showpiece.
Southampton face Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United in the final, but while Puel’s men have two weeks off prior to the match, United face Saint-Etienne twice in the Europa League, as well as Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup.
Nonetheless, although things haven’t been great in the league in recent times, the Saints are embarking on another solid season, yet they’ll look to improve upon their tally of just 28 goals in the Premier League over the coming weeks.
But who so far has been their most creative player in the league?
Well, despite missing a chunk of the campaign through injury, Dusan Tadic pips Nathan Redmond to the top.
The Serbian international, who broke his nose after being kicked in the face by Wales’ Neil Taylor on international duty back in November, has only recorded two assists this term, which is less than James Ward-Prowse and Ryan Bertrand, but he has created 40 chances, which is more than any other Saints player.
That equates to an average of 1.9 key passes per game, again the highest of any player in the Southampton ranks, and although he has scored less than Redmond, he has played 550 minutes fewer than the England Under-21 star, and isn’t that far behind – he’s netted twice to Redmond’s three.
Tadic is fouled more often per game than Redmond (1.1 to 1), and although the latter averages more dribbles and shots per game, that is likely to do with the more advanced role he has played in this term.
Like last term, where Tadic scored seven goals and laid on 12 assists in the Premier League, the 28-year-old helps make things tick in the final third and, although he hasn’t been at his best this season, he is still having an influence in the final third.
Puel will no doubt want more from the Serbian attacker as the season goes on, especially if they are to achieve League Cup glory, as well as a fourth successive top half finish in the Premier League.