How Nathan Redmond turned his season around
Background Image: David Ingham, CC BY-SA 2.0
Southampton continue climbing the Premier League table following a poor start to the season. The Saints won six of their last nine fixtures, including surprising performances against Leicester, Tottenham and Chelsea. Several players continue to improve under Ralph Hasenhuttl. Danny Ings and James Ward-Prowse contributed heavily to the Saints' ascendance but Nathan Redmond takes the fore.
Struggling for form during the season's first half, with just two goals and one assist in his first 19 games, led to some early hooks and appearances from the bench. Redmond failed to impact games as he did in 2018/19 when he finished with six league goals and four assists.
During the 1-0 loss to West Ham in December, Redmond was lifted at half time by Hasenhuttl following what was decidedly his worse performance of the campaign. He completed no key passes, dribbles or shots. His one attempted cross was easily cleared.
Once you hit bottom, however, the only way is up. With the manager demonstrating faith, Redmond returned to the starting line-up for the next two fixtures. The Saints secured important wins over Aston Villa and Chelsea, with the latter marking the midfielder's return to top form. He put in an excellent display in the 2-0 victory, taking on defenders, whipping crosses in the box and putting the match to bed by scoring the second goal, his attacking instincts revealed in his anticipation of a deflected ball at the far post.
He's been consistent since that outing, playing all but 12 minutes in the last eight fixtures across all competitions, proving his importance to the team's success. With the work rate to support with and without the ball, Redmond is a persistent pest for opponents. His direct play and ability to pick intelligent passes provides an ideal outlet in transition, moving the Saints quickly up the pitch.
Redmond’s growing confidence was reflected during his standout performance in the 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace last week. He led by example to produce a man of the match performance. His well-taken goal from 25 yards and an assist for team-mate Stuart Armstrong capped an excellent display. Redmond’s all-round performance emphasised how much the side needs him. Chasing down defenders, forcing mistakes and running at the opposition typified the wingers improving form. He ran the Palace defence ragged.
Redmond also impressed in the FA Cup tie against Tottenham on Saturday. He took players on, defended well and set up Danny Ings with an inch-perfect cross that the former Liverpool striker failed to finish late in the match. Perhaps the only negative was Redmond’s tiredness towards the end.
With tough fixtures against Liverpool and Spurs looming, So'ton need the 25-year-old's energy. On the other hand, fatigue is a key contributor to injury. The manager must balance a congested fixture list with the integral player's fitness. Nathan Redmond’s growing confidence reflects the Saints' recent rise. A vital player in an improving squad, Hasenhuttl's faith to stick with the star after a difficult patch is paying off. Still, he can't push his luck.