Today marks Stuart Armstrong’s 28th birthday! To celebrate, we’re looking back on his top five moments in a Southampton shirt to date…
5. Off the mark at the Cottage
24th November 2018
Having scored on his home debut in a pre-season win over Celta Vigo, few would have expected such a long wait for his first competitive strike, but Armstrong needed plenty of patience at the start of his Saints career. Recalled to the starting line-up after a three-month absence against Watford, the Scot kept his place for the trip to Fulham, where he really announced himself in the Premier League. His first of a brace required some sharp anticipation to take a hooked Nathan Redmond cross on his chest, before sliding in to send a low shot back across goalkeeper Sergio Rico to break the deadlock and his own personal duck in the process.
Stu said: “We played some nice football and I’d come close to scoring in the Watford game before. I wanted to have more shots to score, so that was great on a personal note.”
4. The late clincher against Villa
22nd February 2020
Saints hammered Villa at St Mary’s in February, registering 28 shots, but suddenly found themselves coming under pressure late on, with only Shane Long’s early strike separating the sides. As the visitors threw caution to the wind, goalkeeper Pepe Reina trotted forward for a last-gasp corner, deep into stoppage time. The stadium held its breath, but Saints cleared the danger and Ché Adams played a raking cross-field pass into the path of Armstrong, who was faced with an unguarded net. Where he found the energy to make the run remains a mystery, but he held his nerve after sprinting the full length of the pitch to score.
Stu said: “There was a lot of time to think about it, which sometimes isn’t a good thing! I just had to hit it as firmly as I could and hope it went in. It was a sense of relief.”
3. Beating De Gea in style
1st December 2018
Buoyed by his brace at Fulham, Armstrong was looking sharp as Saints returned to home soil to face Manchester United. It would prove Mark Hughes’s last game as manager, but his team made a fast start, as Armstrong drilled them in front inside 13 minutes. Positioning himself on the right side of the penalty area, the midfielder received a pass from youngster Michael Obafemi, teed himself up with an immaculate first touch and drove an unstoppable shot across David De Gea that hit the back of the net in a flash. Check out the angle behind the goal for the best view of this rocket.
Stu said: “It was nice that my brother and dad came to the Fulham game, but they did not make it for the Man United game! Whenever they can manage to get down, they do.”
2. Picking his spot at Palace
21st January 2020
Another example of Armstrong’s goals coming in batches – he had waited until January to open his account this season, doing so via a deflected strike at Leicester. In Saints’ next away game, he was on target again at Selhurst Park. Once again, coming in off the right flank, Armstrong received a pass from Nathan Redmond, sized up his options and planted a precise curling shot into the corner from 25 yards. After a dominant first-half display, this goal doubled Saints’ lead early in the second period, leaving goalkeeper Vicente Guaita with no chance as the ball swerved away from his outstretched right hand.
Stu said: “I think everyone who knew me knew I wanted to play in the Premier League at some point – that was the dream. It was something I always wanted to do.”
1. Postage-stamp precision
24th November 2018
The only reason his first Premier League goal might have escaped your memory is because of the brilliance of his second, which arrived only half an hour later. Armstrong’s opener had Saints on their way to victory, but Hughes’s men were 2-1 down by the time his second goal arrived. The Scot could have been forgiven for wondering what Cédric was doing on the edge of the Fulham box, but instead he read the script perfectly, as the defender backheeled the ball into his path. Without breaking stride, Armstrong dispatched the neat flick with a stunning 20-yard shot that flew into the top corner of Rico’s net, before racing away to celebrate with the travelling Saints fans behind the goal.
Stu said: “It was just about making an impression, making an impact and trying to bring something to the team in an attacking sense – creating things and trying to score.”