Adam Armstrong Is finally proving his worth to Southampton.
The Saints striker struggled for goals in the Premier League but they are flowing again, following the South Coast club’s relegation to the Championship.
Ahead of tonight’s clash with Leicester, we take a look at Armstrong and how he is flourishing in the second tier.
Premier League woes
Southampton moved for Armstrong after he scored 28 league goals for Blackburn in the 2020-21 season.
Only the now England international Ivan Toney scored more times during that Championship campaign.
Yet while the Brentford striker has flourished in the top flight, Armstrong found the step up to be a difficult one.
The Newcastle academy graduate only scored four goals in 53 Premier League games, across two seasons.
As is generally the case with any striker that is not scoring regularly, Armstrong soon lost his regular spot in the team, with 22 of those appearances coming from the bench.
He was also sometimes used on the left wing, as Saints came close to relegation in 2021-22, before finishing bottom of the table in 2022-23.
Back in the Championship, new Southampton manager Russell Martin gave Armstrong a fresh chance to prove himself worthy of being the team’s regular striker.
The 26-year-old has grasped the opportunity, scoring four goals in five league games.
With Che Adams providing stiff competition with three Championship goals from four games, Armstrong cannot let his standards slip.
Yet his manager certainly seems to have faith in the former England Under-21s international and is backing him to keep delivering.
Martin said: “He’s been amazing. He’s a talented footballer but it’s also the effort he puts in. He listens to the detail.
“He listens to all the work and he trusts it. I think he’s also enjoying himself and he knows how much we value him and I think that’s really important for a player.
“You only have to look at his work-rate. He wins two tackles at the end of the game where he wins one and the ball squirms away so he wins another.
“It’s incredible and he’s a really top player and person. He will be really important and he will score a lot of goals this season.”
Armstrong has proven pedigree in the Championship and looks set to be a vital figure in Southampton’s quest for promotion.
There are many strikers that are prolific at a certain level but just do not have what it takes to take the further step.
In Armstrong’s case, his progression was made all the more difficult for the fact that Saints struggled in his two years in the Premier League, during which he played under three different managers.
With Martin now in charge, the diminutive hotshot is operating in a team that tries to dominate games and he has explained how he and his team-mates are benefitting.
Armstrong said: “After the gaffer came in, he and his staff have been excellent from the get-go really and it’s just trying to implement his style into a group of lads.
“There’s nothing more exciting than constantly being on the ball and that’s what every footballer wants.
“Hopefully this season we can put on some exciting performances and really push.”