Dusan Tadic has earned plenty of plaudits for the speed in which he has settled at Southampton, and rightly so.
Even for a man valued at over £10 million by former employers FC Twente, making the adjustment from Eredivisie football to Premier League competition was never going to be a walk in the park.
Tadic made it look that way, though, at the start of the season, with his fine form mirroring that of the Saints as they burst out of the blocks and into second place in the top-flight standings.
It was always going to be difficult for Ronald Koeman’s men to maintain those standards, though, and cracks are starting to appear.
No lasting damage has been suffered, with the south coast outfit still boasting the best defensive record in the division even after a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester City.
It was, however, during an outing at St Mary’s on Sunday that Southampton started to look like a side feeling the effects of a high-octane opening to the campaign.
Tadic was among those far from their best against City, with the Serbia international struggling to retain possession when presented with the opportunity to pose problems in the final third.
His numbers in that area have not been all that impressive for a few weeks now, with his outings throughout November seeing him fail to register a pass completion rate of above 80 per cent.
|Match||Total Pass||Accurate Pass||Dispossessed||Mins Played|
|Dusan Tadic||Southampton vs Leicester||47||34||1||90|
|Dusan Tadic||Aston Villa vs Southampton||37||29||1||90|
|Dusan Tadic||Southampton vs Man City||31||22||3||90|
|Dusan Tadic||Hull City vs Southampton||28||20||2||81|
Against City, Tadic found a teammate with only 71 per cent of the passes he attempted, with the ball given away far too cheaply.
Southampton cannot afford to carry passengers against the very best in the business, as they are about to find out as they follow a reversal against the reigning champions with fixtures against the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United, Everton and Chelsea.
Those games should hold no fear, with Koeman’s men looking to cement themselves within the top four-chasing pack.
They will need creative influences to be on top of their game, though, allowing them to peg opponents back and create opportunities for another of those to have gone off the boil following a promising start to their St Mary’s career, Graziano Pelle – with the Italian striker now four games and counting without a goal.