With the sacking of Claude Puel Southampton put a tiring season behind them. Crashing out of the Europa League at the group stages and reaching the final of the EFL Cup, Southampton struggled for consistency in the league. With the joint fifth lowest goals scored in the Premier League, and their lowest points tally since 2012-13 Southampton were not fantasy friendly. However, with new manager Mauricio Pellegrino and without the distraction of Europa League football, can they improve upon last season?
An underwhelming Premier League campaign for the Saints led to low production from a former FPL favourite Dusan Tadic. Although he is no longer on penalty duty, Tadic is still a key set piece taker who will see a major share of free kicks and corners. His 2015/16 showing of 157 points from 8 goals and 13 assists highlights his undoubted potential as an FPL asset. Provided he can nail down the number 10 role in Pellegrino’s favoured 4-2-3-1 formation we can hope to see a revival in Tadic’s FPL points and Southampton’s league form.
There are a couple of interesting differential options in Southampton’s forward department. With Charlie Austin and Manolo Gabbiadini presumably vying for the starting striker role. Both currently owned by just 2.1% and 5.2% respectively they have certainly been shunned by the majority of FPL managers so far. This could be linked to the possible arrival of Luciano Vietto however, the rumour mill has cooled off recently regarding this potential move. With six goals in Gabbiadini’s first four games, he became an instant FPL hit, but injury and a goal drought followed this explosive start. Gabbiadini ended his debut season scoring once every 182 minutes in the league. Charlie Austin in comparison scored a goal once every 157 minutes, totalling six in eleven Premier League starts. There is an option however, that would see Gabbiadini out wide as he has played on the wing before for Napoli. If this was the case, Austin in a role further forward would arguably provide the better goals output.
Southampton’s Cedric Soares at £5M is fantastic value for a defender who last season brought home 11 clean sheets from 30 Premier League starts. Taking into account the departure of Cuco Martina, this leaves Jeremy Pied as his only positional rival. With Bertrand and Van Dijk both returning from injuries which could see their minutes managed (mostly in the latter’s case). Cedric is a simple choice that will save FPL budget, and prosper from Southampton’s excellent opening 11 game weeks.
Southampton as a unit kept 14 clean sheets in the 2016/17, which was the fourth best tally in the league behind only Chelsea, Tottenham, and Man Utd. Fraser Forster was ever present picking up 134 points last season, and he will be the first choice goalkeeper come the start of 17/18. Ryan Bertrand is the standout option of the defenders collecting 123 points for 12 clean sheets, 2 goals and 5 assists. From only 28 league games he was the inside the top 15 points scorers in defence last season. Providing he remains at the club he has the potential, if remaining fit, for an increased points tally. Virgil Van Dijk, provided he also stays with the club, will be the first choice centre back on return from injury. However to start the season expect to see Maya Yoshida and Jack Stephens, who will battle it out for the right to partner Van Dijk in the long term. Cedric as previously stated will be the other starting full back.
Up top for Southampton the competition between Gabbiadini and Austin for the presumed lone striker role, could be a tussle that goes back and forth all season. Tadic and Ward-Prowse will offer value as they control the majority of set pieces for Southampton. With Tadic likely to be stationed further forward than Ward-Prowse, he looks the most enticing pick. Nathan Redmond was tipped for a strong year last season, and finished inside the top 25 point scorers in midfield. He was however inconsistent at times, hopefully this year will see him settle a little more. Boufal is another option wide for the Saint’s boss, whilst Hojberg and Davis offer options in the middle of the park. Shane Long could see some rotation minutes up front or wide, but he should not warrant investment without a sustained period of starts.
To improve on last season Southampton will need their key players to remain fit, and as is the Saint’s way, have a talented youngster or two pop into the starting line up. There is reason to be optimistic about Southampton assets especially their first 11 matches, with only one game above a two on the FPL Fixture Difficulty Ranking.