Fearless Broja putting Southampton’s senior strikers to shame

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Armando Broja has started two Premier League games. Armando Broja has two Premier League goals. The Albanian striker, on loan from Chelsea, has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water. Broja took a little while to break into the Southampton starting eleven, with manager Ralph Hasenhüttl admitting that he had held discussions with the young striker to ensure the loanee was fully aware of what was expected of him. It is fair to say that it looks as though Hasenhüttl’s stern conversation worked, with questions of Broja’s application and work-rate seemingly put to bed with his dazzling displays since being tasked with leading the line for the Saints.

Broja is just 20, yet he is already an Albania international who has ten caps and three goals for his country. He is highly regarded at his parent club, Chelsea, and it is expected that there is little possibility of the loan becoming a permanent move. This is seen by Chelsea as a move to get Broja regular football, with the aim of getting the striker ready to feature for the Stamford Bridge club. However, due to Chelsea’s business model, they are also likely to have half an eye on finding prospective buyers for Broja, should they not deem him a potential first-team regular. Often with Chelsea’s academy graduates, if the price is right then the player is allowed to leave without sentiment clouding Roman Abramovich’s vision. Therefore, if Broja’s early season form continues and Southampton think he is a player that could continue to fit their needs then they should not hesitate to make Chelsea an offer.

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Broja providing much needed Firepower

While it is highly unlikely that Broja will be able to continue his ratio of scoring a goal in each of his Premier League starts, he is providing Southampton with a much needed goal threat. Southampton’s more senior strikers, namely, Che Adams, Adam Armstrong, and Shane Long, have managed just one league goal between them this season. Admittedly, Long has only managed one appearance this season, but Adams has featured six times this season and Armstrong has featured eight. It is no secret that the Saints have struggled for goals this season. In fact, they have managed a measly eight goals in nine league games. Their goal tally in all competitions is heavily propped up by an 8-0 Carabao Cup win over League Two Newport County. The second round match against Newport gave Saints fans their first glimpse of Broja’s eye for goal, with the Albanian scoring twice that night.

Against Leeds United last weekend, Hasenhüttl opted to unleash Broja from the beginning and was rewarded with a proper striker’s goal. Nathan Redmond passed Broja the ball with the goal at his mercy and the Albanian finished emphatically. His goal against Burnley on Saturday demonstrated his qualities better. Broja received the ball with James Tarkowski breathing down his neck. Broja brilliantly manufactured himself half a yard, before sharply powering the ball into the far corner. Two very different goals which both demonstrate Broja’s ruthless streak. The striker’s frame is reminiscent of former St Mary’s fan favourite Graziano Pelle, and while Broja uses his 6 foot 3 frame well he also has a very effective turn of pace which makes him far more than just a target man. Broja can run the channels but can just as comfortably play with his back to goal and these attributes are what could make him so crucial to how this season pans out.

While the goal against Burnley demonstrated more skill, it is perhaps the goal against Leeds that will please Hasenhüttl more. Selling Danny Ings in the summer left Southampton without a natural goal scorer. Adam Armstrong’s arrival from Blackburn Rovers was seen as the natural replacement but he has struggled to find the net so far in England’s top flight. Shane Long has never been prolific and won’t suddenly find his touch in front of goal at 34, while Che Adams scores goals in patches, with Hasenhüttl last season comparing the Scotland international to a ketchup bottle, saying “he had again a long run when he didn’t score but maybe we have the ketchup bottle phenomenon. So a long time – nothing – then everything comes.” Unfortunately for Southampton, the ketchup seems stuck in the bottle for now.

Statistics make grim reading for Broja’s fellow frontmen

A quick look at the statistics show Broja’s superior composure and efficiency when compared with his fellow strikers at the south coast club. According to the Premier League official site, the young striker has taken ten shots in the Premier League this season, with a 62.5% shot accuracy. In contrast, Adam Armstrong has taken 21 shots, with a 50% shot accuracy, and Adams has managed to get just 42.8% of his eight shots on target. While there is a larger sample for Armstrong, this statistic does further highlight Broja’s efficiency in front of goal; while Adams’ taking just eight shots in six games may be a cause for concern for Southampton’s coaching staff. With his two goals, this also means that Broja currently has a shot success rate of 20% which is very respectable. Last season, the now departed marksman, Danny Ings, had a shot success rate of 21%; so if Broja can continue at this rate Saints fans will soon forget all about their former number nine.

When speaking on Broja, following his impressive performance on Saturday, Hasenhüttl was highly complimentary. The Austrian told the Daily Echo of Broja’s qualities by saying: “I think that he has the speed in the one against one, passing and shooting when necessary is very good, he is a threat, this is something that definitely helps out the team.” Broja certainly offers Southampton something different from the other strikers at the club and, despite his fledgling years, he is perhaps the most well-rounded striker at the club. Hasenhüttl will be delighted with what he has seen from Broja so far and went on to tell the Daily Echo about the options the striker gives him, saying: “We saw two times Armando Broja starting and two times he scored. He gives us some qualities that we didn’t have so far and (I’m) very happy to have him.”

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Whether Broja can continue scoring at his current rate remains to be seen, but Southampton may have found themselves a gem, even if they do only get to enjoy his qualities for a season. Broja is young and fearless, with a ruthless streak gained from cutting his teeth in the cutthroat environment of the Chelsea academy. Southampton may have found the answer to their lack of goals, while Chelsea know that their player is in a safe pair of hands to continue his development. The Albanian is outscoring and outperforming strikers years his senior and, after a slow start, has made it impossible for Hasenhuttl to drop him. Next up for Southampton is a trip to Chelsea in the Carabao Cup. A game that Broja is forced to miss against his parent club. This may well be a blessing for Southampton after Broja limped down the tunnel on Saturday. The club will be doing all they can to ensure the striker is fit and ready to go again against Watford on Saturday, where he will look to continue his hot streak up against a leaky defence.