Southampton appointed experienced French manager Claude Puel this summer to replace Ronald Koeman who moved to Everton and the Saints have started life under Puel in a decent manner. The first few games were a bit sluggish but the South Coast side finally looks have adapted under their new boss. So, what would be Southampton’s strongest possible XI when all players are fit?
Formation: 4-4-2 diamond
Claude Puel, throughout his managerial career, has mostly used a 4-4-2 diamond formation. The French gaffer loves his side to play a fluidic style of attacking football and 4-4-2 diamond is probably the best formation for that. So, we will stick to that.
Fraser Forster will easily keep his place under the bar ahead of Alex McCarthy. The best possible back four will be Cedric Soares in the right-back, Skipper Jose Fonte and Virgil van Dijk at the heart of the defence and Ryan Bertrand in the left-back position.
Southampton have been performing very well defensive lately and have kept six consecutive clean sheets in a row. Their defence looks rock-solid and they have enough cover in players like Martina, Yoshida, Gardos and Targett.
Oriol Romeu has been immense at the base of the midfield diamond this season with his defensive duties and ability to spray passes toward his teammates. The former Chelsea midfielder is a key player at St. Mary’s right now and will easily keep his place in defensive midfield. Steven Davis will be one of the box to box midfielders.
Dusan Tadic has so far played and impressed at the tip of the diamond but Sofiane Boufal, Southampton’s club record signing is likely to take his place there when he comes back from injury. So Tadic will drop deeper into central midfield. Boufal will be looking to open up defence with his amazing creativity and dribbling ability.
Shane Long started the season as Southampton’s first-choice forward but has been disappointing this season. Charlie Austin lived up to the big occasion and has cemented a place for himself up front. We have seen Puel using summer signing Nathan Redmond as a striker up front and the Englishman has done pretty well there.
So, the front two in our strongest XI will be Austin and Redmond. However, both Jay Rodriguez and Shane Long will have their chances as Southampton being in the Europa League makes their fixture list hectic and rotation is the only way to keep everyone fresh.