Whilst this entertaining 0-0 draw between Town and Southampton beneath the glorious sunshine featured last on Match of the Day, Town are in seventh heaven with seven points from their opening three Premier League fixtures.
With Town flying high as they go into the international break unbeaten, in this piece, I give my post-match thoughts and run through some of the major talking points to discuss from this hard earned draw.
Players in focus
Rajiv van La Parra- Growing into the role
When Town were promoted to the Premier League, I fully expected Rajiv van La Parra to be a victim of Wagner’s front line revamp.
I thought the enigmatic Dutch winger would be used primarily as an impact substitute with David Wagner finding a replacement with proven end product.
This seemed to be the case when van La Parra was left on the bench for Town’s opening day fixture against Crystal Palace.
However, it became apparent that over pre-season, van La Parra proved that he could be as tricky to defend against in the Premier League as he was in the Championship.
Since the omission on the opening day of the season, van La Parra has started against both Newcastle United and Southampton and it seems that he is growing into the role.
The enigmatic winger’s ability to carry the ball has now been supplemented with improved end product which makes him an extremely dangerous weapon for Town to have at their disposal.
It was telling that van La Parra’s premature substitution following a heavy tackle saw the game shift heavily in Southampton’s favour as they were more comfortable pressing higher and attacking more willingly.
David Wagner will be hoping that van La Parra’s injury is only a precautionary one as he is becoming more and more important as part of Town’s attacking quartet.
Chris Löwe- Quietly brilliant once again
Another standout performer for me who was arguably the man of the match alongside Christopher Schindler was Chris Löwe.
The 28-year-old defender had the difficult task of dealing with Dusan Tadic but once again, he put in another supreme performance.
Aside from a single mistake towards the end of the game as he misread the flight of the ball to allow James Ward-Prowse in behind, Chris Löwe didn’t put a foot wrong.
When called upon, Löwe was fierce and tenacious into the tackle as his no nonsense defending ensured that Town kept their third clean sheet of the season.
Although he didn’t make as many forward forays as he would usually do, Chris Löwe’s defensive capabilities were tested extensively and he more than held his own.
Even though he won’t receive the accolades and praise that he deserves, Chris Löwe was quietly brilliant once again as he showed that he is more than capable of performing on the Premier League stage.
Kasey Palmer and Danny Williams – Impressive cameos
Whilst it is clear that Town have a strong starting XI, some questions have been raised about the depth and quality of Town’s squad.
Today was a demonstration that Town do in fact have options to choose from if needed. An uncharacteristically sloppy performance from a jaded Philip Billing saw David Wagner give Danny Williams his first taste of Premier League football in his natural central midfield position.
After impressing on Wednesday night, Danny Williams made an impressive cameo as he broke up Southampton attacks with ease and looked comfortable in possession.
In the second half, Southampton’s midfield did begin to take control of the game and Town began to lose shape as they attempted to wrestle back control and possession.
The introduction of Danny Williams beside an equally combative Aaron Mooy worked a charm as Town dug their heels in and defended well to secure the point.
As well as Danny Williams, Kasey Palmer also looked exceptionally sharp when he came off the bench as it appears that he is beginning to re-find his form.
Physically strong with a willingness to pick up pockets of space between the lines and drive at Southampton’s defence, Palmer looked back to his best.
After making an impressive cameo, Kasey Palmer will be hoping to fully announce himself on the Premier League, this opportunity may come against West Ham United after the international break.
The final ball is constantly improving even without a goal
On the face of things, Town’s failure to score against Southampton will be simply that, a failure. However, particularly in that first half performance, there were many positives to take.
Other than a mix up between Tommy Smith and Zanka which allowed Nathan Redmond a one on one situation which he narrowly curled past the far post, Town dominated the first half.
There were countless last ditch blocks made by Southampton which prevented Town from scoring certain goals as both Elias Kachunga and Steve Mounié were denied on numerous occasions.
The reason why Town made so many chances was that the final ball from both the wingers and full-backs was constantly improving.
Rather than just swinging in crosses in the hope that Steve Mounié can get on the end of it, Town showed some much needed composure in the final third as there were a number of crosses that pulled back to players in space within the box.
Although Town didn’t pick up all three points on this occasion if they continue to find space in dangerous areas and show that level of composure with the final ball, they will convert these opportunities and score goals.
Town won’t make life easy for anyone
There is no doubt about the quality that Southampton possess and I would not be surprised if they finished in a European place come the end of the season.
In spite of the disparity between the quality and experience of the two sides on paper, this was not reflected on the pitch.
Instead, it was a fairly even contest against a very established Premier League side and Town can take plenty of confidence from this performance, despite not picking up the three points.
What is clear is that Town will not make life easy for anyone in the Premier League, regardless of the quality and talent that they possess, Town will run themselves into the ground and fight for every single point.
Against a side of Southampton’s quality, Town could’ve easily been overwhelmed, particularly in the second half when Southampton started to take control of the game but they didn’t.
Two insatiable features that I’ve noticed over Town’s first three games is their resilience and determination, these two traits will serve them well for the remainder of the season.
Home form will be key
Even though Town were unable to make it three wins from three, already Town have picked up four points from a possible six at the John Smith Stadium.
Burnley and Bournemouth have shown that home form is crucial for a newly promoted side that is looking to cement their status in the top flight.
It appears that it will be no different for Town. Last season, we saw how important home form was as Town had one of the best home records in the Championship.
With the complete backing of the crowd, over the coming months, Town’s home form will be key as a reliable source of points as they look to reach the forty point threshold.
Compared to other Premier League sides, David Wagner will be able to draw on positivity and the fact that the entire club is pulling in the same direction.
The enigmatic German coach will be hoping that he can galvanise this fully fledged support to ensure that the John Smith Stadium is a fortress for the remainder of the season.
With seven points already on the board, Town head into the international break unbeaten. David Wagner will be pleased that his hard working squad will have time to rest and recovery. He will also have the opportunity to integrate his new signings fully into the set-up as the German coach’s focus will already be turning to the Olympic Stadium and how Town will approach the game against a struggling West Ham United side.