Southampton meet Swansea on the opening day of the Premier League season, with both teams going through transition during the summer. Southampton will have higher hopes for this season but with a few changes made on each team, we can’t really say for certain how things are going to go.
The top six, seven if you include Everton are where Southampton will have their eyes, although I doubt they can knock any of those clubs out of their positions. Swansea are looking towards the other end of the table and they will want a good start to help their survival chances this season.
Southampton finished 8th last season, although they were 15 points behind Everton in 7th. That will be their aim again, although they would live to be closer to the top seven and if they are that will be seen as a success. One area Southampton will want to improve is the amount of games they win, they only won 12 games last season, drawing ten and that is something they will want to see rise.
Southampton have played five games during pre-season, winning two, drawing two and suffering one big defeat. That defeat came just over a week ago against FC Augsburg and they lost 4-0 at home. That was disappointing, but taking that aside they have impressed in pre-season, especially in their final game which they won 2-0 against Sevilla.
Swansea looked in danger of relegation at Christmas last season, before improving during the second half to eventually pull themselves clear and finish 15th. They only finished five points behind Southampton in 8th, showing just how close the middle section of the Premier League was last season. They have done little to improve their squad over the summer and if they are not careful, they could find themselves dragged into the relegation scrap for the second year running.
Swansea have done well in pre-season, winning one and drawing two games in New York, before an away win at Birmingham. However, they kept their best performance for last and rounded off their pre-season campaign with a 4-0 victory over Sampdoria last Saturday. If they play like that this season, they should be fine this year.
Southampton have kept a very similar squad to last season so I don’t expect to see many changes to their starting line-up. The only notable departure is Jay Rodriguez, who has left to join West Brom. They have just broken their transfer record to bring in defensive midfielder Mario Lemina from Juventus but I think he may take a few games to bed in, so it is unlikely we will see him start on Saturday.
Swansea are similar to Southampton, they haven’t done too much but they have made one big change at the heart of their midfield. Jack Cork has left the club, moving to Burnley and he will be missed but they have brought in Roque Mesa to replace him from Las Palmas. If Mesa can adapt to the Premier League, he looks to have a decent pedigree but he may take time and if he does then Swansea look a little light in the middle of the park.
Top Betting Tips
Southampton head into this game as favourites and rightly so as I believe they have enough ability to beat Swansea. This could be a strange season for Southampton because their ambitions are probably to finish in the same position as last season. They need to motivate themselves to do the best they can and if they can over achieve then a top seven finish is not out of the question.
Swansea will be looking to start the season much better than they did last year to avoid being part of the relegation battle like they were. However, they have done little to improve their squad in an attempt to try and prevent it, so I can see them struggling again.
At odds on, Southampton to win the match outright offers little value so I am going to choose a correct score for this game. I believe both teams are capable of scoring in this game so I am going to back Southampton to win the game 2-1 and get their season off to a good start. A 2-1 Southampton win can be backed at 8/1 with Ladbrokes and offers good value.
Both teams need a good start, but I think it will be Southampton who start well and win this weekend.