Premier League 2021-22 preview # 16: Southampton

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Position predicted by the authors of The Guardian: 14 (NB: this is not necessarily Ben Fisher’s prediction but the average advice from our editors)

Position from last season: 15e

Odds of winning the league (via Oddschecker): 500-1

The plan

The go-not-go saga has been resolved, but for Southampton it apparently now depends on how effectively they replace Danny Ings, sold just over a week before a trip opening in Everton. A poor second half of last season, following premature talks about qualifying for Europe after the team briefly dominated the league, quickly turned into a relegation problem and – given that Ralph Hasenhüttl has stressed that they cannot afford to embark on this season so weak – whether Adam Armstrong and Armando Broja adequately fill the void left by their talisman will surely define their destiny.

Aston Villa, who the striker has joined, are adamant they can be stronger in the post-grealish era and Southampton need to reinvest the £ 25million guaranteed, additions could follow, to spruce up a squad thin exposed by injuries to key players last season, including Ings, Kyle Walker-Peters and Oriol Romeu. The signing of a goalscorer is crucial – after Ings returned to Southampton three years ago, he has scored 41 league goals in 91 games and finished the team’s top scorer every season – and they may have to- still be replacing defender Jannik Vestergaard, another senior player in his final year. of his contract which arouses interest.

There were some magical moments last season – a win over Liverpool, a touching home comeback against Burnley and an efficient run to the FA Cup semi-finals – but an 11-game win after Christmas paved the way for a disturbing end. A safety-oriented approach is not Hasenhuttl’s style, but too often Southampton have exhibited a fragility that prevents them from killing teams.

They are fueled by their captain, James Ward-Prowse, a versatile midfielder with bottomless energy levels who didn’t miss a championship minute last season and could consider himself unhappy not to rack up a few- a few more with England at Euro 2020. His set pieces are still on the money, but his work ethic coupled with his shift to a more aggressive presence and an offensive threat under Hasenhüttl have made him a hit. invaluable piece of the puzzle, which they have every intention of holding onto after rejecting a £ 25million offer from Villa.

Romain Perraud has been signed for £ 10million from Brest, where he played with midfielder Ibrahima Diallo, and is equal parts left-back Ryan Bertrand, whose seven-year stint has ended. Southampton beat Brighton to the signing of much-loved Chelsea full-back Tino Livramento, adding depth to a key area, and the Saints see his arrival as a big blow. The arrival on loan of Broja, another Chelsea teenage prospect, who spent last season at Vitesse, will complete their attack.

Theo Walcott returned to a permanent deal, but the fringes of the squad still feel stale despite the club getting rid of high-earners Mario Lemina and Wesley Hoedt, taking a big hit on both, as well as the third choice goalie Angus Gunn. Meanwhile, center-back Dynel Simeu has resigned from Chelsea, joining the club’s B team after rejecting a new contract at Stamford Bridge.

There are high hopes for Nathan Tella (left) and Moussa Djenepo this season. Photographie : Matt Watson/Southampton FC/Getty Images

Southampton have some talented individuals but, as they were reminded last season, it’s a team game. Diallo has impressed in midfield and will have more opportunities this campaign, and there is more to come from Moussa Djenepo, whose progress was interrupted by injury, Hasenhüttl suggesting the Malian winger could operate from behind. left. There are high hopes for Nathan Tella – Hasenhüttl said the academy’s aim must be to feed the first team with at least one breakout player every season – and Mohamed Elyounoussi will have the opportunity to claim his claim after his return from a successful loan to Celtique.

Another conundrum for Hasenhüttl is whether to hand over the No.1 jersey to Alex McCarthy or Fraser Forster. Southampton are keen on strengthening the spine, with a center-back and a No.6 on the manager’s wishlist. Only the relegated West Brom conceded more top-flight goals last season and Hasenhüttl knows they need to improve on the goals-against column if they are to be taken seriously. “The way we have defended in and around our area is far from that of a big Premier League club,” he said in May. “If we don’t change that in the future, we’ll still have a hard time talking about the top 10 positions. “

The director

A navy waistcoat, a white mandarin collar shirt, and blue plaid tartan pants seem to pair with a wallet chain that would look great in Ian Poulter’s wardrobe. Ralph Hasenhüttl’s eccentric outfit for Southampton’s first preseason friendly was indicative of his exuberant personality on the sideline. The Austrian, who signed a new four-year contract last summer, is a demanding manager and his fingerprints are all over this pressing Southampton squad. He guided RB Leipzig to the Champions League, but erratic streaks prevented him from bringing the Saints back to the Europa League. He enjoys playing the piano – and is known to do an interpretation of Elton John or Queen on trips outside – and also likes the weird analogy. “I hope Che Adams is like a bottle of ketchup,” he said of the forward finding the golden touch in front of goal. “Nothing at first, then one charge at a time. “

Ralph Hasenhüttl's sideline outfit against Fulham was indicative of his exuberant personality on the sideline.
Ralph Hasenhüttl’s sideline outfit against Fulham was indicative of his exuberant personality on the sideline. Photographie : Matt Watson/Southampton FC/Getty Images

Key player

The gentle Stuart Armstrong is an unsung artist and his creativity will be key if Southampton is to thrive after the sale of the Danny Ings talisman. Armstrong, 29, joined Celtic three years ago when Mark Hughes was in charge, but now he is everything about Hasenhüttl’s squad. He is graceful in his possession but an altruistic operator, whether he rushes towards the goal or he extinguishes the danger. He didn’t have an agent until he was 21, avoids social media and before breaking through at Dundee United he enrolled in a law degree from Open University.

The owner

Gao Jisheng has been an almost invisible presence since buying 80% of the club’s shares four years ago and such an image has done little to win over fans. Gao believes self-sufficiency is king and has cut its fabric accordingly, making funds available if players are sold. Gao, a real estate mogul, has appointed his London daughter, Nelly, and Martin Semmens, the managing director, to run the club on a daily basis. Southampton is never too far away from takeover rumors, with Gao supposedly open for sale. The Saints denounced plans for a European Super League with a pithy statement, but Hasenhüttl arguably expressed it better. “Nobody wants it,” he said.

Factor Euros

Vestergaard’s imposing frame impressed as Denmark reached the semi-finals, where they lost to England at Wembley. Leicester-born Stuart Armstrong and Adams, nicknamed ‘McAdams’ by his teammates, were part of the Scottish squad unable to pass from Group D. James Ward-Prowse was a surprise omission by the 26-man England squad who impressed Gareth Southgate, but he stayed behind to participate in the two friendlies on the eve of the tournament. A true modern professional.

we will sing

“Oh When the Saints Go Marching In” is the most familiar refrain heard in the stands, but academy graduate and now Captain James Ward-Prowse – “he’s one of us” – and midfielder Oriol Romeu fighting ground are at the heart of the supporter sings. Southampton won a resounding 3-0 win over Sheffield United for 2,000 supporters in December before restrictions tightened and gave fans a comfortable victory over Fulham in May.

Return to Sainte-Marie

Good For a modern day bowl, the floor can create a decent atmosphere, especially in the Northam booth which houses the fans.

The bad The 15-minute walk from the station is not the most scenic and starts with a climb.


Ridge

From top to bottom, the halo above the ball refers to the club’s roots at St Mary’s Church, as does the nickname Saints, the red and white scarf a nod to fans, the tree represents the nearby New Forest, with the water representing the history of Southampton as a port, from which the Mayflower and the Titanic left for America. Underneath is a Hampshire rose. In an April Fool’s Day 2018 gag, the club replaced the ball with a “Saint” emoji.

Trending topics

“JWP should be in the England squad”

“Can we stop the relentless 9-0 chat?” “

“The team obviously needs more investments”

“Looks like we don’t miss Danny Ings much then”

The mascot

Sammy the Saint made a name for himself with a few daddy dances in 2012, performing a part-time rendition of Gangnam Style.

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