The Opposition: Southampton

Graziano Pelle

For the second time in two years Southampton find themselves starting a season with a new manager.

Ronald Koeman has moved to Merseyside, with Claude Puel taking the reigns at St Mary’s.

Many thought Southampton would implode following Mauricio Pochettino’s departure to Tottenham, but they won’t be so foolish to write the Saints off this time.

Puel has spent his entire footballing career in France, so expect a number of players to hop across the English Channel.

They must learn from Aston Villa’s mistakes when shopping in that particular region though, and I’m sure they will.

There is already the spine of a successful side at Southampton and it’s important they keep hold of the likes of Graziano Pelle and Dusan Tadic having already lost Sadio Mane to Liverpool this summer.

Once again they will be battling with the likes of Stoke in the hope of clinching one of the final European spots- Stoke travel to St Mary’s on the final day- and also battling for a Cup.

Memorable match: Southampton 0-1 Stoke. 21 November 2015. It was a fantastic away performance from Stoke last season, settled by a cute flick from Bojan early on. It could have been far more come the final whistle, in a match where Ibrahim Afellay really showed his quality for the first time in a Stoke shirt.

2016-17 Fixtures: 14 December (H), 21 May (A)

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