Key man: Rickie Lambert
Predicted position: 13th
After two successive promotions, Southampton became the second consecutive club to survive its first season in top flight — following in the mighty Norwich City’s footsteps. Although they surprisingly released Nigel Adkins in January after a good run of games, Mauricio Pochettino brought a little more stability and ensured they finished 14th.
With his first full season in charge, Pochettino will want to get off to a better start than the Saints did last season under Adkins. They had only gained eight points and conceded 24 goals from their first eight games. Home games to West Ham, Sunderland, and Crystal Palace could be just what Pochettino needs to get this season rolling.
The Saints have made some room in their dressing room and on the pay roll to allow them to make some clever signings including securing the signatures of some of the club’s youngsters. One of the most highly sought after left-backs around, Luke Shaw, turned down the chance to sit on the bench play at bigger clubs to sign a new deal. After seeing Sammy Saint’s Gangam Style Shaw couldn’t resist seeing what he’d get up to this season.
Securing the kids weren’t the only objective Southampton had this summer. They managed to sign their two primary targets — Dejan Lovren and Victor Wanyama. Lovren and Wanyama were both brought in to ensure the Saints don’t concede another 60 goals this season.
Although some serious money was spent last summer on Gaston Ramirez, he hasn’t exactly reached the heights Southampton had been hoping. But there’s always that awkward settling in time just like your first year at a new school. Without the glare of the top money transfer on him, Ramirez should be able to crack on while he’s supported by Wanyama’s pairing with Schneiderlin.
Old and new acquisitions aside, much of Southampton’s spotlight will be poised on their big man up front – Rickie Lambert. Not only was he their top scorer last season, but Roy Hodgson has only gone and called him into the England squad at the age of 31. Lambert may struggle to score another 15 this season, but he’ll not be short of goals with the support he’s got in the midfield.
With money being spent sensibly, Southampton should expect to finish even stronger than they did last season – as long as Jason Puncheon manages to remember to always use the toilets -before- kick-off.
Where will Southampton finish this season? Will Mauricio Pochettino’s men suffer from the so-called second season syndrome or will the new signings be enough to push them towards a mid-table finish?Let us know below or get in touch via our Facebook or Twitter.