Premier League 2022-23 Preview #17: Southampton

Premier League 2022-23 Preview #17: Southampton

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The Guardian writers’ predicted position: 17. (NB: This is not necessarily Michael Butler’s prediction, but the average of our writers’ picks)

Placement last season: 15

Odds on the championship title (via Oddschecker): 500-1

perspectives

If Southampton are good they are a Premier League top-half team. And when they’re bad, they’re relegation fodder. Since Ralph Hasenhüttl opened at the end of 2018, the problem has been that you never know which version you will get. Unfortunately, that’s the most exciting thing about being a Southampton fan right now.

After failing to replace Danny Ings early last season, Southampton needed 10 games to win their first game and ended the season with a worse goal difference (-24) than relegated Burnley, with only one successful streak in February Club held above the drop zone.

Transfers have been idiosyncratic for a while – the idea of ​​Saints having a player good enough to sell to Liverpool these days seems a little far-fetched. This summer’s transfer policy of paying more than £23m for Manchester City Academy players seems a little risky until you recall the success of Tino Livramento and Armando Broja (of Chelsea) last season. If Southampton do one thing well, it’s a good youngster. It’s the rest of the recruitment that you need to take care of.

Much depends on the fitness and form of captain James Ward-Prowse, who was top scorer (11 goals) and chief creator (eight assists) last year, and if they find a scorer. Broja has returned to Chelsea, Che Adams has had a mixed spell, while Adam Armstrong has failed to fill in the footsteps of Danny Ings after he left Aston Villa a year ago.

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The manager

“Having spent time with Hasenhüttl, I can say that I really like him and he’s really smart,” said the club’s new owner, Dragan Solak, when he took over in January. Solak spoke about building a top-10 team, but Hasenhüttl will likely fight relegation again as this is a squad that needs an overhaul, not tweak. Tough defeats aren’t just limited to 9-0 defeats: Southampton ended last season with two draws and ten defeats in 13 games, five of those defeats coming from a margin of at least three goals.

transfer coup

Many rejected the original £12m deal for Roméo Lavia, an 18-year-old who had made just two senior games for Manchester City. But this is a player highly rated by Pep Guardiola. Lavia was the only youthful member of City’s academy to be named in their 21-man squad for last season’s Champions League group stage and the Premier League champions include a £40million buyback clause in the deal with Saints recorded. As a defensive midfielder, Belgium’s Oriol will rival Romeu but has better passing range and is more agile than the Spaniard. Expect to see a lot from the youngster.

Impact on the World Cup

Southampton have few absentees but their biggest problem will be in defence. Jan Bednarek (and new goalkeeper Mateusz Lis) will be in action for Poland, while Mohammed Salisu has quietly emerged as one of the Premier League’s most progressive centre-backs and the uncapped Ghanaian was finally convinced to play for the Black Stars after he said he wanted to focus on his club career last year. Ward-Prowse has a chance of an England call-up.

interactive

Alternative attractions during the World Cup

You could do a lot worse than skip the city and head into the New Forest via the River Test. Or you can take a quick ferry to the Isle of Wight, which hosts festivals of music, vintage cars and even garlic. The latter includes the famous Lamb National, where sheep race around a circuit with toy jockeys on their backs.

Management of shirt sales

Who else as “the best free-kick taker in the world”, according to Pep Guardiola: Ward-Prowse. The Portsmouth-born captain joined the Saints aged eight and has carried his side on his back for the last 12 months. The only problems with getting his name on the back your Shirt is a) how expensive all these letters are going to be b) if Ward-Prowse leaves before the transfer window closes. Despite signing a new five-year deal last year, Tottenham and West Ham remain linked with him this summer.

upstart

Not even the club can beat Theo Walcott’s 2.8million followers on Instagram, but it’s suspected that has more to do with an Arsenal hangover than “content” the 33-year-old is dumping into the airwaves. The best thing about this corner of the internet is that people have (largely) stopped listening to the conspiracy nonsense that Matt Le Tissier has been spreading on his various social channels.

If Netflix had made a Southampton documentary…

There’s probably a very sensible documentary out there about Southampton’s academy, with Gareth Bale, Walcott, Adam Lallana, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Luke Shaw and Calum Chambers all breaking into the first-team in the not-too-distant past. However, I think most people would rather watch a full-length “movie” by another academy graduate, Ward-Prowse, just to take free-kicks. Eighty-five minutes with the skipper whipping it onto the garbage cans? Yes, please.

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