If someone before the start of the season told me Southampton would be where they are in the table, 7 games into the Premier League with 13 points in one of those automatic Champions league places, I'd have probably laughed it off. But then, the Saints have managed to raise a few eyebrows with an impressive start to their domestic campaign despite losing most of their key players and the manager during the summer.
The south coast club did make a few shrewd signings though, in a bid to restore their quality if not improve it and one signing in particular has been firing them on all cylinders to those crucial early victories, that goes by the name we are all familiar with – Pellè. Graziano Pellè.
Leicester City, the standout team among the three promoted sides, has had a phenomenal start to their league campaign as well, taking 9 points out of their first 7 games scoring 11 goals, notably a fiver against Manchester United, with their record signing Leonanrdo Ulloa's stunning start to his maiden season in the English league, integral to their league standing. The Argentine forward was signed from Brighton for a club record fee of £8m and he's repaid them with vital match-winning goals in these first few games and will need to do so in the coming months to keep them among England's elite crop next season and beyond.
The 29-year old completed a move to St.Mary's after two goal-laden seasons at Dutch side Feynoord with one of those on loan at Parma. He's found the back of the net 4 times in the league already that includes a spectacular overhead effort against QPR, and has also assisted a goal so far in the season. In over 600 minutes of league football this season, Pelle has managed to hit 3.3 shots at goal, per game and created a respectable 1.6 chances a game. He has attempted 30 passes on an average thus far which is a good statistic for a target man but with an ordinary passing accuracy under 70%, he should be looking to pick out a teammate more often, in the future. (Stats from Whoscored.com)
Ulloa may not grab the headlines like Costa does, but he is doing an equally important job at Leicester City. Record signing from Brighton where he managed to score at a decent rate (23 in 50 games), he's come leaps and bounds in the Premier League, scoring 5 in the league already against the likes of Everton, Arsenal and Manchester United. His workrate has already enamoured himself to the foxes faithful, while his aerial prowess provides an extra defensive cover during the set piece situations. Not one of your prima-donnas in the league, but Ulloa comes across as an honest, hard working forward genuinely looking to help his side and his own self to keep pushing at the top division.
Graziano Pelle v Leonardo Ulloa
With both the forwards playing a pivotal role to their club's current league position, on an individual level, Ulloa has arguably been the better striker so far. And weighing in the fact that Pelle plays in a better side overall, with all the respect to Leicester City, this only adds more imaginary points in Ulloa's favor. The Argentine boasts a better shot accuracy of 60% compared to the 50% that Pelle has managed. Ulloa has been better in the air as well, with a slightly better goals per 90 stat and the Leicester City frontman has also been the more deadly forward when it comes to converting chances from inside the box bettering Pelle's 0.57 goals per 90 minutes, thereby proving to be a proper fox in the box. So far so good for the Argentine and Leicester City, with him having a better season than the Italian forward at this point of the season.
There is little doubt that these two players will be hugely influential in their respective sides and will make a marked contribution to achieving the coresponding ambitions. With Southampton aiming to push for one of the European places and Leicester City looking to stay up and establish themselves in the Premier League, it could all come down to who can deliver the goods and indeed goals, until the final weekend.