Having regularly over-performed in the Premier League, Southampton face the challenge of moving to the next level and challenging the top teams in the division. With another new manager at the helm, they will attempt to improve on last year’s performance in the upcoming 2017-18 season. But how will they perform? Read our Southampton Premier League preview to get the full breakdown on the Saints’ chances.
At first glance, Southampton had a solid 2016-17 season. They finished the campaign with 46 points, which was enough to secure eighth in the table, and they also reached the final of the EFL Cup. But closer analysis suggests a significant decline over the period. In 2015-16, they had secured 63 points and had broken into the top six, and that apparent decline, along with a style of football that was perceived to be unattractive, cost manager Claude Puel his job. His replacement, Mauricio Pellegrino, who is highly regarded in Spain after a spell in charge of Alaves will be under pressure right away to show that the team is progressing.
Pellegrino could hardly have wished for a gentler introduction to the campaign. The team kick off against one of last season’s relegation strugglers, Swansea, before taking on West Ham, Huddersfield, Watford and Crystal Palace, and assuming that the Saints get up to speed quickly, all five of those games are distinctly winnable fixtures.
Bookmakers are still taking a cautious approach. They rank Southampton as unlikely Premier League winners, and optimistic Saints fans can back that eventuality at odds of 500/1 with BetVictor, but give them some chance of breaking into the top six, which can be backed at 5/1 with Unibet. A top-half finish is considered an odds-on chance at 4/6 with Betway, with a bottom-half finished priced up at 8/5 by Tenbet and relegation a 25/1 shot with Coral.
One of the highlights of Southampton’s season last time was their success in the EFL Cup where they reached the final before losing a 3-2 thriller to Manchester United. Another cup run would do wonders for morale, and with the big teams likely to rest key players in the early rounds of cup competition, there are opportunities for Southampton to go deep in both domestic cup tournaments. They can be backed at 28/1 with TenBet to win the FA Cup and are available at 25/1 with 32Red to go one better this year and win the EFL Cup.
Southampton have built their success over recent years on the ability to spot talented players, and Manolo Gabbiadini is one of latest examples. He moved to Southampton from Napoli in January and enjoyed an excellent spell for the club, scoring four times in eleven Premier League games and bagging two in the EFL Cup final.
With that experience under his belt, he could prove to be a regular match winner in the 2017-18 season, and if you fancy him to lead Southampton to greater things, you can back him at 40/1 with William Hill to finish the campaign as the Premier League Top Scorer.
A recurring problem for Southampton has been their business model of selling their best players for a profit. While this helps to keep the money rolling in, it does make it hard for the team to progress, and this summer has seen another long-running transfer saga as star player Virgil Van Dijk waits to link up with Liverpool. They have also sold Jason McCarthy and Jay Rodriguez and risk going into the season with an under-strength squad, so will presumably be attempting to bring in new recruits before the end of the transfer window.