It’s Southampton’s turn to go under the microscope, let’s take a look over their probable best XI!
Foster is Southampton’s number one keeper when fit, however he is expected to be out until at least Christmas with a knee injury. This will give Stekelenburg the opportunity to impress during the first half of the season.
There has been 2 major changes to Southampton’s rearguard. Alderweireld’s departure has left a gaping hole at centre back, which was exentuated by Gardos‘ injury. There was some hope that Yoshida could be a lock in their starting XI, however unsurprisingly Koeman dipped into the transfer market, loaning Caulker. He came in at 5.5… Utterly staggering. I think Yoshida might get first chance, however his job security will be constantly under threat. New signing Cedric should take over the right back role from the departing Clyne, he looks good value at 5.0 if Southampton can maintain their strong defence. Bertrand will start at left back once fit, however Targett (4.0) looks like he will start in Gw1.
Schneiderlin’s departure should mean that Wanyama’s spot is secure. New signing Clasie looks like he will partner up with him in midfield, however he is in doubt for GW1 with a hamstring injury suffered during Europa League qualifiers. Ward-Prowse and Davis look to be competing for the furthest advanced role in midfield, however I wouldn’t be selecting either for GW1.
Tadic and Mane should both be starters on the wings in GW1, however forward Rodriguez will also compete for a place out wide. Mane’s job security is secure, he will be hoping to continue his goal scoring form this season and should be seriously considered at 8.0.
Pelle looks like he will once again lead the line for the Saints. There is hope that Rodriguez can return to his 2013/14 form once he returns, however he’s still lacking match fitness. It may be a couple of months before we see him gain a consistent starting position. Long should serve as back-up, however I can’t fit him into their best XI.
50/50: Mane is a little pricey for my liking, however his potential is undeniable. His goal per minutes ratio was outstanding last season, however it was given a massive boost by Aston Villa. His 2 minute hat-trick was mostly gifts, which leaves me wary to him possibly being over-priced. Of course if he starts pumping out regular hat-tricks he will be a lock!!! Playing out wide I’m going to pass on him to start with, if he hits form there’s no harm in bringing him in.
Lock: If I was confident they could maintain their defensive form then Cedric would become a no brainer, however European commitments and the loss of Schneiderlin is enough to make me wary.
Avoid: I’m going to make a massive call here, but I’m avoiding Pelle. He has been much hyped this pre-season, I’m guessing due to his form in Southampton’s practice matches? Honestly I feel like I’ve missed something. Sure he bagged a hat-trick against Quick 20′ in a 10-0 win, but I could probably score against them. The perfect data is already in front of us. He played a full season at peak fitness in the EPL, during which Southampton finished 7th. He scored 12 goals. Also consider that he went over 1000 minutes without scoring a goal, that’s Torres-esque. Now sure he will be solid and score his 12-13 goals, plus he also assists. However he is priced at 8.0 people! Pelle’s going to have to seriously up that 3.9 ppg average if he’s to be solid value. I just can’t see him doing it. You could gamble on him starting well, but I can guarantee he’ll be on your chopping block if he doesn’t score within the first 2 GW’s!
Breakout: I had Ward-Prowse down for a break-out season last year, and it almost worked out. He still managed 8 assists, mainly thanks to his dead ball expertise. If he can become a regular starter he’s a great option at 6.0, he definitely has the potential to pump out 10+ assists every season. Watch him, at 6.0 he could become great value if his job security improves.
Stoke are up tomorrow, we’re almost into the final week before kick-off!