Before the game at Old Trafford we asked who has been the stand out player for the saints so far this season. It was close but the fine folk that peruse this site have crowned on loan Belgian defender Toby Alderweireld with the honour.
Recent games may have shown the beauty of the saints defence is its structure and that gaps caused by injuries can be filled without the whole thing falling down, even so, Toby has been missed. His performances have been a joy to behold and it is obvious he was schooled in the way of the Ajax. His ability on the ball and sublime range of passing is the perfect foil for the captain's no nonsense hustle. A permanent deal would be incredible but I fear even a top four finish would not suffice.
In the summer Koeman described the capture of Alderweireld as impossible, and it should have been. Luckily our European chasing rivals decided it would be wiser to sign Fazio, Lovren and, in the case of Man Utd and Arsenal, noone.
Anyone who thinks its a shame that our best player is only a loaner needn't be. Fans should be happy that a player with obvious champions league pedigree has acted with such humility and desire in the Southampton red and white.
Lets have a look at the squads' individual player goal differences to see if they can provide an insight into who has been the finest saint so far this season.
Every time I talk about stats and football I feel the need for a disclaimer. Here it is, correlation does not imply causation. Stats are a nice way of looking at trends and can hint at things we can expect in the future. They can also lie to you. Your lucky pants might have a 100% record at St Marys but its possible that the win had more to do with Jack Cork being on the pitch.
This simple player goal difference metric has long been measured in ice hockey. It is not without its critics but is still interesting. Last year crazy Artur Boruc had the saints' best pgD, a number that reflected how much weaker the team looked when he was injured.
Calum Chambers was the worst player by this stat with minus SEVEN goals. Nathanial Clyne, who is now surely miles ahead of his old team mate in the race for the England right back shirt, had a positive FOURTEEN goal difference. Chambers' struggles have followed him to London. Arsenal as a team have a goal difference of fourteen, Calum meanwhile has a pgD of just three.
Here are this season's numbers:
pgF: Saints goals whilst player was on the pitch, pgA: Opposition goals, pgD: Individual player goal difference, pgR: Individual player goal ratio, mins: minutes played.
The stand out this season might just be Jack Cork. 17-0 is pretty stupid, when I first saw the numbers I had to check they were actually correct. Obviously this doesn't mean Cork should automatically be picked ahead of Morgan and Victor. It does however help explain why all saints fans see it as such a no brainer to offer him a new contract.
Thankfully there has been some movement by the club on this and Big Ron has confirmed that the Chelsea academy product has been offered a new contract. Last week Jack had the following to say in a post match interview after a rehab appearance for the under 21s.
Perhaps the summer of 2014 has left me a pessimist but it sounds like Jack sees himself in the shop window.
Second in our vote last week was Wanyama. Under Koeman the big Kenyan has been able to show off some of his less heralded abilities. The goals added to his game seem to have alerted the rest of the country to the fact that, other than Matic, there isn't a better defensive midfielder currently in the premier league. These numbers aren't Big Vic's friend though.
The numbers do like Schneiderlin. One of four players with +21 pgD and top of the table above by virtue of his superior goal ratio. I voted for Morgan last season when everyone else went for Lallana. I voted for him the year before when he was the consensus choice. Hell, I even voted for the Frenchman when he was struggling to get in the team ahead of Dean Hammond. He continues to be our best player.
What do you make of the numbers? Obviously there are sample size issues throughout, especially with Gardos and Reed, but their impressive goal ratios reflect how well they have slotted into this team.
In a similar number of minutes played Shane Long's figures are superior to Sadio Mane's. Which player do you prefer to see in the starting lineup?