FPL Preview: Southampton

It was hard not to fall in love with Southampton last year, as they quickly became Premier League darlings with their fast start following a tumultuous summer where they lost a lot of talent. Ronald Koeman did a great job in guiding them to a seventh place finish and a Europa League spot, but following another twisty summer can he repeat his first year trick?

Let’s start with the losses; Morgan Schniederlin will leave a big hole in the Southampton midfield even if his effect for fantasy was sometimes limited, Nathaniel Clyne’s move will also leave a hole but perhaps the more devastating is the failure to sign Toby Alderweireld on a permanent deal following his loan last year. However, once again, Koeman has done good business himself adding Jordy Clasie as direct replacement for Schneiderlin, Cedric Soares as a direct replacement for Clyne and then adding Juanmi and Cuco Martina for depth. An under rated addition was the loan of Martin Stekelenburg who will serve as potential temporary replacement for Fraser Forster and a much needed upgrade from Kelvin Davis.

Early Fixtures Outlook: @ Newcastle, vs Everton, @ Watford, vs Norwich, @ West Brom, vs Man United

Wow do I love this start for Southampton as they face two promoted sides as well as three teams who struggled last year before squaring off with Man United at home. Southampton have every chance of getting off to a hot start both in defence and attack, which should make Southampton’s players well owned commodities to start the season. An added benefit for draft leagues is that some of these players may be able to be sold high in return for slow starting players who should end the season higher on the points charts than some of the Saints players.

Goalkeeper Outlook: Martin Stekelenburg (£5.0m)

Stekelenburg had half a season in the Premier League with Fulham back in 2013/14 as they got relegated, so his experience is minor, but he is a talented goalkeeper who should be ideal to serve as the stop gap whilst waiting for Forster to return. In salary cap leagues his £5m is equal to that of Mignolet, Fabianski and Adrian, all of whom I would rather have. In draft leagues his value is hampered by the fact his impact may only be for half a season. Southampton’s defence showed they are capable of keeping clean sheets and in adding Soares they have kept a solid unit together. However, the defence will take some time to click so Stekelenburg should get a few save opportunities this season.


Stud: Ryan Bertand (£5.5m)

Bertrand had a stunning first year for Southampton last season playing 34 games and amassing a stunning 140 fantasy points. Being part of a Southampton defence that kept 13 clean sheets last season was a big part for his fantastic season, but when you add in two goals and three assists then you have an all-around fantasy defender on your hands. The losses of Nathaniel Clyne and Toby Alderweireld  will hurt this Southampton defence massively but we thought that when Shaw and Lovren left last season and they didn’t miss a beat. Perhaps the bigger loss is Fraser Forster who bailed the defence out a plenty last season and will miss at least the first couple of months. In crossing leagues, Bertrand is a locked in stud but at £5.5m with question marks over how the defence will readjust this year he isn’t someone I would look to start the year using.

Sleeper: Cedric Soares (£5.0m)

Soares looks to be yet another intelligent purchase from Southampton as they look to bring in a direct replacement for the departing Nathaniel Clyne. His goal scoring record isn’t great but he actually assists more regularly than Clyne did in his time with Southampton. If this Southampton side can settle then they could have a really nice start to the season defensively making Soares at £5.0m a potential defensive bargain especially if he can get the ball in the box at the other end of the pitch

Jose Fonte will continue to be the rock of the defence and I expect Maya Yoshida to step up and take the spot next to him. Yoshida did well when called upon last season and I don’t expect him to miss a beat in doing so again this year. Ideally, Southampton would look to sign someone because behind that starting four they are very thin with Florin Gardos, Matt Targett and Cuco Martina the next men in line. Of those three I actually expect Martina to be the best fantasy option but I don’t consider anyone other than Fonte, Soares or Bertrand ownable to start the year in any format.


Stud: Sadio Mane (£8.0m)

Sadio Mane

Southampton have a lot of midfield options, but in terms of going forward Mane is by far the most talented and consistent. The pacey winger finished just outside the top 10 midfielders last season but had he not left for the AFCON for over a month then he could easily have proven to be a top five option. The main reason behind his success was the 11 goals he scored last season, which were accompanied with four assists. In his second season he could take that to another level, especially with the opportunity to play a full season and we could see Mane reach the 15 goal mark and announce himself as a true elite midfielder. This is a must own guy in salary cap leagues at a bargain £8.0m and should be drafted as a high end #2.

Sleeper: Victor Wanyama (£4.5m)

Wanyama’s price surprised me a little because he wouldn’t be one of the first names on my team sheet if I was Southampton manager. Wanyama is a strong central midfielder who demonstrated last year he was capable of getting forward and scoring a couple of goals. While he won’t set the world on fire he could be a sneaky cheap addition in salary cap leagues who plays consistently and pops up with a few goals.

It is hard to call this because Ronald Koeman liked to rotate last year, especially towards the end of the season and with Southampton in the Europa League we could find he has to manage his squad cleverly – especially if they progress beyond the group stages. I would expect Jordy Clasie to be the main partner of Wanyama in the centre of midfield, but I don’t know if he can score enough goals to be worth owning, especially when you consider he is £1m more than Wanyama. Initially, I expect Shane Long to take up the CAM (Central Attacking Midfielder) position just behind Pelle or Rodriguez, so the only other midfielder I expect to play regularly is James Ward-Prowse, who was surprisingly good last year before getting injured and finished the season well. Dusan Tadic is the enigma because he is a talented player but he seemed to fall out of favour as the season went on, so what role he will have this year could determine how valuable Ward-Prowse is. Right now I wouldn’t want him at his £6.0m price tag and I definitely wouldn’t touch Tadic initially at £7.0m either.


Stud: Graziano Pelle (£8.0m)

Pelle started the year strongly for Southampton before levelling off a little as the season went on and defenders worked out what his style was. However, he still managed an impressive 12 goals and six assists to sit as a top 10 option upfront come the end of the season. My biggest concern is the return of Jay Rodriguez, who could easily reclaim the striking job if Pelle struggles to start the season. Potentially, Koeman could use both but for now Pelle is in the box seat and has to be drafted as a #2 striker. In salary cap leagues his price is fantastic at just £8.0m as if he does play all year and put up similar numbers then he will be a massive bargain and the question marks around his role may be enough to make Pelle an ignored commodity in both formats.

Jay Rod

Sleeper: Jay Rodriguez (£7.0m)

Rodriguez was absolutely stunning two years ago as he set the Premier League on fire with his 15 goal, three assist year, on his way to scoring 152 points. However, that season was cut short and then all of last year was lost to a devastating knee injury, meaning he enters this year with a question mark. Southampton were fortunate that they found Pelle as they could rest Rodriguez properly and allow him the most amount of time possible to heal. The worry is that we saw how Radamel Falcao seems to have been affected by his knee injury and Rodriguez could have similar issues as he tries to return. But there is a big reward potential here. In salary cap leagues, Rodriguez shouldn’t be owned to start the year but you need to be ready to pounce if he starts the first game and gets off to a decent start because his price will soon shoot up if he starts well. In draft leagues I like Rodriguez as a high end #3 because I expect him to have a role as the season develops and Southampton need all their resources across four competitions.

Shane Long was surprisingly effective last year given his limited role as he scored five goals and contributed six assists. The role behind the striker seemed to suit Long as he fed off Pelle and used his pace to often devastating effect. Long is a fun striker to watch and he should get the chance to start in that CAM role once again but if both Rodriguez and Pelle have a hot pre-season/start of season then Long could quickly find himself out in the cold in the Premier League and for this reason he is a tough play at £6.0m. In draft leagues he is worth a punt as a fourth striker given he could be quite effective in a free role running off Pelle to start the season. The other main striking option is Juanmi but I cannot see him playing a big part this year unless two of the three guys above struggle or get injured. Right now Juanmi comes across as back-up for Southampton but keep your eye on him because Southampton have had two strikers come from nowhere to be among the best in the game in the last two years.

Predicted Opening day line-up:

GK: Martin Stekeleburg

RB: Cedric Soares

DC: Jose Fonte

DC: Maya Yoshida

LB: Ryan Bertand

CM: Victor Wanyama

CM: Jordy Clasie

RW: James Ward-Prowse

LW: Sadio Mane

CAM: Shane Long

FWD: Graziano Pelle


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