Southampton looked to have been dealt a real blow when it was confirmed that injury had forced Stuart Armstrong out of his side’s clash with Chelsea on Saturday.
The Scotsman has hit a rich vein of form for Saints recently and is often their main creator but picked up a minor injury recently.
As it proved though, his absence was not such an issue.
Moussa Djenepo stepped in and proved his own worth to Ralph Hasenhuttl with an all action display that helped secure a vital point.
Normally Saints would prefer to see Djenepo involved in attacks and using his skill on the ball in one-on-one situations. On Saturday, it was the determination of the Malian that saw him stand out.
More from Saints Marching
- Southampton: Ralph Hasenhuttl talks about International Break
- Southampton: Team news and predicted Saints line-up vs Sheffield United
- Sheffield United vs Southampton Preview: Who will win crucial game?
- Southampton: Club has some interest in striker Tammy Abraham
- Southampton: Saints man could make national team switch for World Cup
What seemed to help him grow into the game was some tough tackling on him from Chelsea – he was fouled four times throughout the game, which was the most of any player on the pitch.
He was anything but passive in his own defensive actions though, attempting seven tackles and winning four of them – again, both stats that saw him top the team in both categories.
Despite not being able to influence attacks directly, he tried to apply his dribbling abilities too. He attempted six in all and completed three of them which were, you guessed it, both team highs stats.
He also brought out the party tricks in the second-half as confidence grew – seen via the BT video above – and could have easily created a match-winning opportunity for Saints if he had been more involved around the penalty area.
Post-match Ralph Hasenhuttl was full of praise for his player, highlighting his defensive play as “amazing”
Saints will still know that Djenepo has a lot of time on his side but perhaps this will be the start of a strong run of form for him now. He has struggled for consistency since last season but this can be expected with a 22-year-old.
He has just three goals and two assists in 39 appearances since signing from Standard Liege in 2019 but has the real potential that Ralph Hasenhuttl likes to work with, and everyone close to him will be hoping he reaches his full potential on the South Coast.