Southampton are all set to kick off their new season under new manager Claude Puel with a home game against Watford who also underwent a managerial change this summer (from Quique Sanchez Flores to Walter Mazzarri). The Saints are on the back of their record Premier League finish from the last season and Puel has pretty big shoes to fill. His predecessors Pochettino and Koeman did a remarkable job at the St. Mary’s and emulating that is not a bread and butter task and that too with Europa League commitments.
One thing the Saints ensured in the last few seasons that no matter how many key departures from the club hurt them, you can never write them off. In the last three years, Southampton managed eighth, seventh and sixth placed finishes respectively and Puel will be keen to keep up the amazing progress of the South Coast side.
Here is the predicted Southampton lineup against Watford.
Despite the summer arrival of Alex McCarthy, Fraser Forster’s place under the bar does not look in jeopardy. The English international will start the game as the last man in defence. Southampton’s two Portuguese defenders Cedric Soares and Jose Fonte both played key parts in Portugal’s Euro 2016 win and both lack match fitness and are likely to sit out for the game. Ryan Bertrand will also miss the game with an injury. The back four for the Saints for the game is likely to be Jeremy Pied, Virgil van Dijk, Maya Yoshida and Matt Targett.
Summer signing from Bayern Munich, Hojbjerg is in line for his first start in a Southampton jersey. The Danish international is likely to start at the base of the midfield diamond. Steven Davis and James Ward-Prowse are likely to start as the two box to box midfielders while new signing Nathan Redmond could get his debut at the tip of the midfield diamond.
Following the departure of Graziano Pelle, the responsibility is now on Shane Long as he is the most senior forward of the South Coast club. The Irishman will be looking to start the season from where he left off the last term. Long is an assured started for the game and alongside him, Dusan Tadic is expected to play the role of a supporting forward ahead of Jay Rodriguez and Charlie Austin.