Can Saints rebuild after big-name sales take their toll? – Southampton 2018/19 Opposition Preview

9 August 2018

After a terrible campaign that almost saw them relegated from the Premier League, Southampton must push on in 2018/19 and prove that was a blip.


When we play them: September 22 (home); April 6 (away)

Last season: Won 3-0 (home); Won 2-0 (away)


It is now six seasons back in the Premier League for Saints, who until 2017/18 had registered four top-eight finishes in a row.

Things unravelled last time around, however, with former Liverpool centre-back Mauricio Pellegrino struggling badly and Mark Hughes eventually brought in to save the day.

Southampton came perilously close to the drop against all expectations, but they clung on thanks to some much-needed late-season form.

It is a lesson they must learn from and in Hughes they have a manager famed from being solid rather than spectacular—someone who delivers mid-table finishes.

Assessing their squad there is no reason why that shouldn’t be the case, but will the players still be scarred by last season’s struggles? How much confidence will have been lost?

Some interesting business has been made this summer, not least big-money signing Jannik Vestergaard, a towering 6’7″ defender from Borussia Monchengladbach.

It will also be interesting to see how midfielder Stuart Armstrong fares, having crossed the border from Celtic.

Another relegation fight would be a surprise for Saints, but don’t rule it out completely.

 

Southampton

STOKE-ON-TRENT, ENGLAND - Monday, April 18, 2016: Stoke City's manager Mark Hughes during the FA Premier League match against Tottenham Hotspur at the Britannia Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Players in: Jannik Vestergaard, Mohamed Elyounoussi, Angus Gunn, Stuart Armstrong, Danny Ings (loan)

Players out: Dusan Tadic, Florin Gardos, Jordy Clasie (loan), Sofiane Boufal (loan), Guido Carrillo (loan), Ryan Seager, Jeremy Pied, Stuart Taylor

Best XI: McCarthy; Cedric, Yoshida, Vestergaard, Hoedt, Bertand; Hojbjerg, Lemina, Armstrong; Elyounoussi, Austin


We spoke to Saints supporter and writer Richard Brereton (@RichardBrer) to get his thoughts on his side’s season and Liverpool’s title challenge.

How optimistic or pessimistic are you for the new season, and why?

I’m reasonably optimistic.

For the first time in a while we will start the season with the same manager that finished the last one. We have also only lost one key player in Dusan Tadic.

Both of these factors should give us a bit of stability heading into the season. We have added some quality to the squad but still need at least another attacking player.

We should have no problems in securing a mid-table finish.

What are your aims for the season?

This season needs to be about finding stability again. The aim has to be a comfortable mid-table finish and a strong run in one of the cup competitions.

This will give us the platform to push for a top-eight finish again next season.

Who’s your man to watch?

This is a tough choice between Elyounoussi and Armstong.

The former has shown huge promise in his Champions League performances to date—particularly last season against Man City—but we have not seen much of him in pre-season.

My pick for player to watch is Armstrong, because he has been excellent so far in pre-season.

His passing range, driving runs and vision all add qualities to the team that we missed last season.

* All rival supporter views taken before the end of the transfer window.

 

St Mary’s Stadium

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 2, 2015: A general view of Southampton's St. Mary's Stadium before the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match against Liverpool. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Capacity: 32,505

Away fans’ pubs: Yates—it’s about halfway between the station and the stadium.

One piece of advice for visiting fan: Get the train. The station is a 30-minute walk from the stadium and there are plenty of pubs on the way.

 

Liverpool

ANN ARBOR, USA - Friday, July 27, 2018: Liverpool's manager J¸rgen Klopp during a training session ahead of the preseason International Champions Cup match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at the Michigan Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

How do you rate Liverpool’s chances heading into the season?

Liverpool are clearly one of the favourites to challenge Man City for the Premier League title.

They have made some fantastic signings and have actively addressed areas of weakness in the squad.

I think you are still short of an attacking player but have enough quality to comfortably finish in the top four.

Who’s going to be the Reds’ Player of the Year, and why?

These awards tend to go to attacking players so I will go for Mohamed Salah again. His pace and directness are key to Jurgen Klopp’s style of play.


TIA’s Southampton Predicted Finish: 16th (Average of the TIA writers’ predictions)

Where Richard says Southampton will finish: 10th

Where Richard says Liverpool will finish: 2nd


This is part of our club-by-club opposition previews this summer, getting the views of away fans on their club and their thoughts on LFC:

Arsenal | Bournemouth | Brighton | Burnley | Cardiff | Chelsea | Crystal Palace | Everton | Fulham | Huddersfield | Leicester | Man City | Man United | Newcastle | Southampton | Tottenham | Watford | West Ham | Wolves

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