|Tottenham Hotspur 4 v 1 Southampton|
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 6th August 2022 Kick-off 15:00
Southampton At Tottenham Hotspur The Preview
Friday, 5th Aug 2022 11:45
Here we go with the first preview of the season, perhaps the last one I will write with any degree of hope if the pessimists are proved right, so I'll enjoy this one while it lasts and hope that by 5pm on Saturday I still have that hope for the season intact.
This is being touted as the season Spurs finally turn their promise into trophies and that they win their first piece of silverware since the League cup in what will soon be 15 years ago back in 2007/08.
Indeed in the last 30 years there has rarely been cause for celebration on Tottenham High Road, aside from that League cup, the only other silverware has been a win in the same trophy in 1998/99.
Out of the so called Big Six, Spurs have been the perennial underachievers, the only one to not win the League title since the Premier League began, with the last of their two top flight title wins coming back in 1961.
So as you can imagine expectations are high amongst the Tottenham faithful, so high they are actually considering having an original song of their own to commemorate what they hope will be their best season in living memory.
So Saints travel to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as lambs to the slaughter, Spurs have already spent £100 million this summer including £60 million on Richarlison, although he is unable to play due to a one match suspension for throwing a flare into the crowd whilst still at Everton.
So there is our first glimmer of hope, we are playing a side that will feature only £40 million of new signings.
Sadly from a Saints perspective the only other likely absentee is 21 year old midfielder Oliver Skipp who is likely to be replaced by ex Saint Pierre Emile Hojbjerg.
So the big question for Saints fans is who will be in Ralph Hasenhuttl's first starting XI of the 2022/23 season or more to the point who will play in goal, who will play in the left wing back position and who will start up front.
In goal the fans choice is Gavin Bazunu, the only question mark being his age, however he has two seasons in League One behind him so he is not short on experience, but his age is against him, however Dean Henderson was not much older or experienced when he starred on loan for Sheffield United in 2019/20 season, likewise Arron Ramsdale in the same season for Bournemouth.
So if they can do it then so can Bazunu and i think he will be in between the sticks come 3pm.
It seems that Ralph will play three at the back and it is hard to see much past the trio of Bella-Kotchap, Bednarek & Salisu, if only for the fact that truthfully Jack Stephens & Lyanco don't fit in this type of back line, although perhaps Ralph may opt for the pace of Yan Valery at some point.
Kyle Walker Peters will almost certainly be one of our wing backs, but who will be the other, if KWP plays on the right then the options are Djenepo who has played there pre season, Romain Perraud who firstly is not fit after missing much of pre season and secondly doesn't have the engine to get up and down as a wing back he is more a traditional left back.
If we don't opt for either of these then we could go for a wild card of Stuart Armstrong or perhaps even Nathan Redmond.
But we could switch KWP to the left and utilise Armstrong on the right or even Yan Valery.
In the centre I would expect to see JWP, but who do we sit alongside him Romeo Lavia or Oriol Romeo, personally I would go for experience on this one and Romeo but equally I would perhaps got for these two plus Lavia in a line up to defend first and then build on that.
Up front Ralph has to decide whether to go with two outright strikers or be a little creative, as we only have three strikers to choose from I would go for Adam Armstrong & Che Adams, Sekou Mara at his previous club was mainly an impact player from the bench and this may be the case on Saturday.
But Ralph could also opt to use Joe Aribo, either as an out and out striker or by playing with just one up top with Aribo in a deeper role.
On paper this is a one horse race, but although we have suffered the odd stuffing in the past few years, most games against Spurs have been close.
So this is very much a fixture pairing hope against expectation, we go to North London with hope whereas the Spurs supporters go their with expectation and our hope is that their expectation weighs heavily on their side and that enables us to do what we did last season.
Truth is though that this is a game we are expected to lose, last season we lost to Everton a team that went on to struggle and that was very much three points dropped, we were playing catch up after that, lose to Spurs and in many respects it is a free hit, we are expected too, most sides will lose at the TH Stadium, it might look bad in the early league tables, but ultimately we will have plenty of opportunity to play sides where we can take points.
I am optimistic for this season, I have gone on record as saying that I feel that we have a stronger squad than we had at the same stage last year, that is mainly due to the numbers game where we have two more outfield players than a year ago, yes one of those is Sekou Mara who is an unknown quality, but so was Broja a year ago and Mara only has to get 6 goals in the Premier League to match the Chelsea man.
Hopefully we will be stronger still by the time the transfer window closes.
So Im going to enjoy the period leading up to 3pm, in many respects the best time of the year for a Saints supporter as we still have hope, what was the point of all that worry and moaning on message boards anticipating a poor season for the club, now we will start to find out how we are looking, I won't judge just on this game, but perhaps in six or so weeks time when we have got the tough opening 5 fixtures out of the way and also played some of the lesser sides.
The aim of the season is no longer to break into the top six, lets be honest money has taken over the game, the rich now dominate, it is to firstly keep clear of relegation trouble, something we have managed under Ralph Hasenhuttl and it is to try and push into the top 10, something that we have looked like doing at some point in each of the last three seasons, that should give us cause for optimism.
So a Happy Season to all Southampton supporters, supporting a football club should be all about enjoyment, perhaps this will be the season when a section of our fanbase will be proved right, but for the past 8 years they haven't been and they have missed out on some great moments.
Photo: Action Images
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The U'sual Ramblings #2 by wessex_exile
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The U'sual Rambling #1 by wessex_exile
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When Monday Comes #37 by wessex_exile
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When Saturday Comes #36 by wessex_exile
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