|Southampton 0 v 0 Burnley|
Barclays Premier League
Sunday, 12th August 2018 Kick-off 13:30
Saints V Burnley The Preview
Saturday, 11th Aug 2018 15:47
It's the opening weekend of the Premier League season and Saints are looking for something that is usually extremely rare, an opening day victory !
Forget all that happened last season, forget all that happened in pre season, that counts for nothing now, all that matters is what happens at St Mary's against Burnley.
Last season we had many problems, however they have all been dealt with so we can go into this game with hopes that we can have a good season and once again push for a top 10 placing.
We are stronger than this time last year in all departments, we have brought in players in key areas that were sadly lacking last season and in Mark Hughes we have a strong manager rather than a "coach".
So there is cause for optimism for Saints fans whatever some will say.
The key is to go along to St Mary's without prejudice, it's a new season a new start and hopefully Mark Hughes can get us off to a winning start.
The reality is we really don't know what tactical formation Hughes will employ or indeed who will be in his starting XI, you would assume that Alex McCarthy will start and so will Ryan Bertrand, but after that there are literally two options for every position and that is good.
Given that Burnley were one of the lowest scorers in the Premier League and have not addressed that problem, it would seem that the game might well follow last season's pattern with Saints pushing the visitors back and only being troubled on the break, then Burnley scored with their only effort on target, a free header given to Sam Vokes who made no mistake for the only goal of the game with 9 minutes left.
Personally I would like to see Saints attack, play Bednarek, Hoedt and Vestergaard as a back three, they have the pace and height to deal with things on the break, not to mention adding height at set pieces at both ends.
I would then like to see Ryan Bertrand wide on the left and Mohammed Elyounoussi on the right, in the centre Mario Lemina, Pierre Emile Hojbjerg and Stuart Armstrong with Charlie Austin and Manolo Gabbiadini up front.
I feel this is a well balanced attacking formation.
That will still leave us a strong bench, in fact so strong that some who were regulars last season will not even get on it.
My subs would be Gunn, Yoshida, Romeu, Redmond, Long, Ings & Ward Prowse, again an attacking minded bench but with options to change the game when required.
This would give Cedric another week to get fitness levels back up and would also see the likes of Jack Stephens, Steven Davis, Josh Sims, Matt Targett, Fraser Forster,Sam McQueen, Harrison Reed & Sam Gallagher all surplus to requirements.
This perhaps shows how much stronger the squad is this term, what it now needs now is that competitive edge that only the Premier League can give it.
But although of course we need the new signings to show their worth I think the real key this season will be a few of last seasons squad to step up their game and show us truly what they can do, Wesley Hoedt can be a top defender, he got some stick from some last season, but I think in a well disciplined defence with the experience of Jannik Vestergaard alongside him he can step up to the plate.
In midfield we need Mario Lemina to show us the class he had in some games, but sadly not enough to find any real consistency and finally Nathan Redmond, I think he can be a great impact player if he is given a chance by the supporters to show what he can do, he did this at Everton last season and scored a great goal, one that was vital to the cause.
If those three can step up to the plate with the key additions of the summer, we can get off to a great start and have a good season.
As I say we should all reserve judgement till we have seen a few games, watch without the prejudices of last season and let the team play without fear.
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