1. Stu Armstrong
Resolution for 2024 -- improve out of possession.
The man with the gorgeous hair known as Stuart Armstrong has been one of Southampton's primary creative forces this season. While his 3 goals and just one assist (it being that low was very surprising) do not pop off the page, look deeper and the Scotland international's importance to the Saints attack become clear. He ranks 3rd amongst regular players in "Shot Creating Actions" per 90 minutes -- which attempts to quantify any passage of play that leads to a shot. He is also 3rd in touches in the opponent's box, and he ranks in the 99th percentile in this stat amongst his peers.
His close control and ability to play in tight spaces has given him these gaudy numbers, and is invaluable for Saints. Stu's ability to dribble past defenders has been especially important when opposition sides sit in low blocks and congest passing lanes.
But Stuey has one issue -- out of possession. He ranks near the bottom in most defensive statistics both on the Saints as well as compared to his peers. While as a primarily attacking midfielder, he does not shoulder much defensive responsibility, seeing his defensive actions increase will vastly improve the Southampton high press and counter pressing.
2. Kamaldeen Sulemana
Resolution for 2024 -- get in sync with Adam Armstrong and Ché Adams.
There is no doubt that Sulemana is an incredibly exciting, talented player. He has incredible pace, and the skill to get past opposing fullbacks almost at will. Moreover, he is measured with his attacking, keeping defenders guessing about when he will turn on the jets.
Despite all this, he has only managed 3 assists on the season, and no goals. More worrying he has only contributed 2.1 expected assists, meaning that the statistics think he should have less assists than what he has.
His biggest issue is his final pass. He constantly gets past the first man to play a cross into the box, and constantly it is either behind or out of the reach of the onrushing strikers. While Armstrong and Adams are not exactly goalmouth presences, the disconnect between Sulemana and the Saints strikers is striking (or...not striking). If they can get on the same page -- watch out rest of the league.
3. Carlos Alcaraz
Resolution for 2024 -- become more consistent.
Carlos Alcaraz has the potential to be a game breaker at this level. He can run with the ball, shoot from distance, and play a line breaking pass with the best of them. It's not a coincidence that top level teams like AC Milan were sniffing around the Argentinian international last summer.
But for long periods of game time -- Charly can disappear completely. At his best he looks like Andres Iniesta, at his worst he can let the game pass him by with misplaced passes and lost possession. And like his midfield mate Stuart Armstrong, he does not contribute immensely on the defensive side of the ball. Consistently performing at his best is the next step in Alcaraz's potential -- hopefully his stints with the Argentina national team and Leo Messi can impart some new skills.
4. Sam Edozie
Resolution for 2024 -- keep up the directness.
At the beginning of the Championship season, Edozie was a regular on the teamsheet. But amongst Southampton's 4 game losing streak, manager Russell Martin turned elsewhere, leaving the youngster out. But the injury to Kamaldeen Sulemana opened the door to Edozie, and he has seized his chance with aplomb, chipping in 2 goals and an assist in his last 5 games.
Edozie has played so well, it is incredibly poor timing for him to get injured, as he did after a horror tackle by Norwich's Jack Stacey. But he has done enough to guarantee playing time upon his return, and he needs to continue his direct goalmouth play if Saints want to continue pressing for automatic promotion come season's end.
5. Shea Charles
Resolution for 2024 -- time to get on the scoresheet
Shea Charles contributes to games in lots of unappreciated ways. He is great at breaking up opposition play, solid aerially, and improved in possession from early in the season. His biggest barrier to playing more is Flynn Downes, who has been undroppable for Russell Martin. If Charles wants to find more playing time, he has to start contributing in other ways, and force himself into the conversation. I am looking for goals and assists from the defensive midfielder in the 2nd half of the season. Flynn Downes (hopefully) isn't going anywhere, but there is playing time to be had in the midfield elsewhere, and Charles is a key candidate to take those minutes.
6. Ryan Fraser
Resolution for 2024 -- contribute as a starter.
We have written previously about the Wee Man Ryan Fraser's incredible impact as a super sub, and his push for inclusion in the starting lineup. Well his chance will finally come this month with the injuries to Sam Edozie and Kamaldeen Sulemana. It is time to see if Fraser can keep up his barnstorming form for the entire 90 minutes of a match, and if so, Russell Martin will have a real wealth of options at his disposal once the Southampton injury room starts to empty out.
7. Sam Amo-Ameyaw
Resolution for 2024 -- score for the first team.
The 17 year old SAA has a bright future. He has impressed in his limited senior appearances, looking lively on the ball. However while the youngster consistently appeared on the substitutes bench early on, aside from a start against League Two Walsall he has not features for the senior team. There is still at least one FA Cup game left for Southampton, and Amo-Ameyaw should be targeting that fixture to get off the mark for the senior side and get a goal.
8. Adam Armstrong
Resolution for 2024 -- get to 20 goals 20 assists.
He could very well get to that impressive mark. He is currently sitting at 13 goals and 9 assists at the halfway point of the season. What a turnaround for Adarma, who had almost played his way out of town after Southampton's relegation.
9. Ché Adams
Resolution(s) for 2024 -- get better at heading, score easy chances.
Someone who hasn't watched Southampton would likely be surprised that Saints fans are constantly complaining that their 2nd leading goal scorer is a poor finisher. And the advanced numbers would tell you he is a good finisher: he is outperforming his xG significantly (7 goals, 5.2 xG).
But the reason why Saints fans demand more from Ché is that he could score more goals! He consistently makes simple chances look difficult, while putting away more tricky opportunities. Scoring the simple ones would go a long way towards Adams finding his impressive goal scoring numbers from before joining Saints.
A bonus 2nd resolution for Chéle...use your head. Adams cannot score with his head...like at all. By my unofficial count, he has only scored one header in four seasons with Southampton (winner at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in 2022...one of my favorite games of the Hasenhüttl era).
10. Sékou Mara
Resolution for 2024 -- marques plus de buts.
Sékou Mara has not had a good start to his Southampton career. The French U21 international is an out and out striker, he needs to score goals to contribute. And so far -- he hasn't. Reports from Southampton training consistently state that Mara is a superb finisher, and Saints fans have seen flashes of his clinical finishing on the pitch (his goal against Walsall was superbly taken). It is looking increasingly likely that a striker will not be incoming this January window, and so there will be moments where Southampton need Mara to score. He needs to take those opportunities when the came, or else his Saints career could be over before it really got started.