Southampton Premier League Preview
Players In: Jay Rodriguez, Nathaniel Clyne, Paulo Gazzaniga, Steve Davis, Lee Holmes, Ross Flitney
Players Out: Harlee Dean, Bartosz Bialkows, Ryan Doble, Daniel Harding
Southampton have returned to the Premier League. The club that brought us the pure unadulterated joy of watching Matthew Le Tissier are back and have a new folk hero in Rickie Lambert. The club acted very quickly to bring in Jay Rodriguez to give him as much time to get used to the first team squad as possible. With a full pre-season together his partnership with the free-scoring Lambert will be the difference between the survival or relegation.
Goals weren’t a problem for Southampton last season finishing as top scorers in the Championship and with Rodriguez on board they have enough options. The conceded on average a goal a game and with little investment in the defence it will be interesting to see how they cope. Danny Fox and Nathaniel Clyne are both talented full backs but it will be the partnership of Jose Fonte and Jos Hooiveld that will come under some pressure.
Southampton played attractive football last year, looking to pass it out from the back and create their own style. Whether Nigel Adkins will stick to this plan in the Premier League is open to debate but the likes of Swansea, West Brom and Wigan have proved you can survive and play good football.
This is an exciting time for Southampton after a few years of struggles and the side has been built around the success of their Academy which has produced in recent years Bale, Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain. With ongoing investment into training facilities and rumours of further additions to St Mary’s survival this year could lead to the full revival of one of the Premier League’s historic clubs.
First game analysis:
Opting to face the champions away from home without your top-scorer of the last two seasons is some selection, and it came so close to fruition for Nigel Adkins. Manchester City could have been out of sight by the time of Rickie Lambert’s introduction but the Liverpudlian had scored within minutes of coming on and his introduction sparked the Saints into life. Jose Fonte and Jos Hooiveld looked like Championship level players at times on Sunday, so the strike force of Jay Rodriguez and Billy Sharp supporting Lambert will need to get them out of trouble.
Southampton have the fire power to survive their first season back but will they be frugal enough at the back? Effective strikers often make the difference as last year we saw Grant Holt and Danny Graham keep their respective sides up. There is a soft spot for Southampton from most neutral fans and with so much good work being done at the club it would be just reward if they were to stay up. Will they? Just.