It seems an absolute age since Steve Mounié burst onto the scene. Marking his Premier League debut with a brace, he sent Town briefly to the top of the Premier League table.
Since that win, Mounié has faced some difficulties. From injuries to (baseless) rumours of a training ground bust-up, this season Mounié has stared adversity in the face.
Having suffered a heel bone injury, Mounié was sidelined for just over a month and it seemed that injury had knocked the 22-year-old’s confidence significantly.
Following his return, the young Beninese striker had attracted criticism in previous weeks as there was a (perceived) nonchalance and lack of effort in the view of some fans in his performances. This was compared to Town’s other centre-forward option, Laurent Depoitre whose aggression and work-ethic are more obvious to see on the pitch.
However, in a crucial match and potentially an integral moment in Town’s season, Steve Mounié delivered.
Mounié scored a brace for the second time this season to condemn Brighton & Hove Albion to defeat and help Town climb above their direct rivals.
For both goals, we saw the predatory, instinctive nature of Mounié shine through. It is these attributes which has seen him be rated so highly by some. This is despite him still being in a relatively early stage of his career.
Whilst the first goal seemed to be a very simple finish, it was Mounié’s intelligent movement to lose his marker that allowed him to have all the time in the world to bundle it home at the back post.
For the second, Mounié’s movement played its part again. However, the goal came about as a product of the positioning of the Beninese striker who found a pocket of space in the box and planted his header beyond Mathew Ryan.
Whilst Mounié’s two goals will steal the headlines, I was much more impressed by the complete performance of Town’s record-breaking signing.
As part of an energetic and relentless front four, Mounié didn’t look out of place as he worked tirelessly to make life extremely difficult for Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy.
As well as his excellent off the ball work, Mounié’s hold-up play and interplay seems to have improved dramatically since that opening day victory over Crystal Palace.
In the second half particularly, we saw Steve Mounié playing with a freedom and a swagger that the side has been severely lacking in recent weeks.
The confidence that will undoubtedly bring ahead of a busy festive period and the threat that Mounié poses when Town play specifically to his strengths offers a renewed sense of optimism for Town fans after a difficult run of fixtures.
Whereas Depoitre is willing to feed off scraps and sacrifice himself for the team, Steve Mounié is very much reliant on quality service as a striker that comes alive in the 18-yard box. Yesterday was a clear demonstration of that player trait.
Mounié demonstrated that he has not only returned to full fitness but he is back firing on all cylinders. Between now and the end of the season, his contributions and performances, if he can find a consistency, could make all the difference.