Author Archives: Ollie Price

2017-18 Premier League cups – Understanding the tough and easiest starts

Presently recommended bets by peers – Chelsea 33 for 1.

In this article we shall provide you with quick fixtures for you to guess a glimpse of season ahead.

In the premier league, each team has to compete against every other team. A team having a tough start can be considered as a winning team and opening fixtures can further accelerate the team towards its winning success.

You can refer to the graphs for 2017-18 season to study the winning pattern of the top rated teams. Let’s highlight some of the winning patterns here.

Southampton and West ham are considered as easiest starts as they both had an opportunity to play 5 weak teams out of 6 in the first of 10 matches. As compared to this, Tottenham played 4 weak teams out of 6 and had around 7 fixtures.

When speaking of toughest starts, Everton is heading the list as they have to play 4 out of 5 to qualify for the league. In the same row, Leicester had to face against 4 strong teams out of 6 initially.

Key numbers talk!

According to past reports for last 18 matches Chelsea has been winning fixtures for opening day. They had to face around 3 draws. They have never been beaten ever since 98 or 99 league. So if you were to place your bets then this team would be ideal for this premier league. They have a much better chance of winning this season as well. It is mostly wise for bookies who are looking to make a profit and lack experience in Sports betting to start with placing free bets. Free bets are bonuses provided by the different online brands that allow bookies to place bets at a minimum risk. Betters can also click on the link to get information specifically regarding free bets on Cheltenham 2018 league.

Next stands Watford on the list as the team has not been defeated this season yet. For their last ten matches the team had managed to win 5 out and had to face a 5 match draw.

Manchester City also has a very good track record as they only had to face a 1 draw match this season and won around 7 out of eight matches. Everton, on the other hand, has only managed to win 1 match out of their 9 fixtures opening. They also have a score of 4 draws in a row.

Stroke are still suffering to have an opening in present season out of their 7 matches played.

According to experts placing bets on Everton certainly is not advisable. Next suggestion would be the Leicester who have had a very tricky start. They have managed to play against five out of six teams that are tough out of ten games. It is also expected that the team has yet to deal with four more tough teams this season in opening matches.

Arsenal is also believed to have a very slow start in the initial stage as nothing much is expected from their gameplay till late September.

Easiest starts teams

Claude Puel can try and win back the victory and faith of the fans, as they may only have to face one from six this season, while all others are almost relegated. In 2017-18 it is also certain that West Ham has shown a very slow and gentle start.

Could Southampton Move for Nicolai Muller This Summer?

Nicolai Muller isn’t a household name in European football but he could mature into a top talent should he move to the Premier League this summer. Southampton have been linked with the 29-year-old for well over a month now but those links have intensified now that Muller has rejected a contract extension with current club Hamburg. He has been on Southampton’s radar for some time and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Mauricio Pellegrino’s side make a concrete bid for the winger.

Back in 2015, he scored one of the most important goals in Hamburg’s 128-year history; a winner against Karlsruher that helped the club avoid relegation. Since then, Muller has blossomed into a fan favourite with the Hamburg faithful but he is out of contract next summer and the club may push to sell the wantaway winger in the next month.

With 14 goals in 49 appearances over the last two seasons, Muller has been a key figure for Hamburg but it is now time to move on. At 29 years old, Muller has to move now or he’ll never go. According to various reports, Saints and fellow Premier League outfit West Ham were interested in signing Muller back in July and a move to St Mary’s could materialise if Pellegrino is still interested.

At the time of writing, Hamburg are priced at 2/1 for relegation this season according to Bundesliga betting odds and Muller might want to get out now in order to preserve his reputation. According to various reports, Wolfsburg and Schalke, arguably better placed to avoid dropping down to Germany’s second tier, have shown interest in signing the winger and a move to a rival could be on the cards.

Hamburg want to keep the player but the club are in a difficult position. Should Saints come in with an offer that they can’t refuse, Hamburg will almost certainly accept. From there, it is a matter of convincing Muller to leave his native Germany for England and the Premier League. If Pellegrino can convince Muller that he will be a valuable member of his squad, he could push to join Saints before the end of August.

Saints could do with somebody like Muller to keep defenders on the back foot. Yes, he is a relatively unknown quantity but that could work in Pellegrino’s favour – signing the Hamburg man might be straightforward if Southampton can fend off West Bromwich Albion. His pace and tenacity out wide would certainly give Saints an edge and new dimension going forward and Shane Long could prosper from Muller’s blistering speed.

Hamburg have been flirting with relegation from the Bundesliga for a few years now and Muller knows that the club are on a downward slope. Muller was hampered by injury last season and he was sorely missed – they always tend to perform better with the 29-year-old in the side. With five goals and six assists in 22 Bundesliga appearances, Muller had a solid year statistically and Saints would benefit from his impact. Over to you, Mr Pellegrino…

Would Andre Ayew Be A Good Signing For Southampton?

Southampton have struggled to add to their squad this summer, but an interesting option could be to add Ghanaian misfit Andre Ayew to their squad.

It is now looking increasingly likely that Virgil van Dijk will leave Southampton for a huge fee, after the player was left out of the clubs training camp in France. It looks as if the club are coming to the realization that they will have to let the wantaway defender move on. If that happens, the club will be armed with a sizeable transfer kitty.

Ayew arrived at West Ham just a year ago for a reported fee of £20million. I expect that Southampton would not have to pay any more than that amount to convince West Ham to part with their, not so successful signing.

Last season Southampton certainly lacked creativity and goals. Ayew can score and assist regularly and would be a bright spark in the final third for the club. The Saints top assister last season was Dusan Tadic with just 5 and their top scorer was Nathan Redmond with 7.

Despite his limited game time last season (16 starts, 9 sub apps), Ayew notched up 6 goals and 3 assists. His best form without a doubt though came at Swansea where he was given more regular game time. He managed 12 league goals in 34 appearances for the Welsh side, playing predominantly in a wide midfield role.

The 27-year-old has struggled to impose himself at West Ham and with the club recently signing Mauro Arnautovic, Ayew’s game time will again be restricted and the temptation of more regular football and a chance to reinvent himself at Southampton could be one he’d be interested in.

Betfred’s Review Page on BettingTop10 tells you the pros and cons about the bookies and where you’ll be able to find best value if you fancy a flutter on Ayew completing this reported move to Southampton.

We can see potential in this rumour and certainly feel like Ayew would be a decent addition to this Southampton squad. He’d provide some goals from wide areas, and there’s not many players in this squad that are capable of that. If a narrower formation is played then he is also capable of playing through the middle. His versatility is certainly attractive.

Time for Southampton to cash in on Virgil van Dijk

Virgil van Dijk is one of the best defenders in the Premier League; there are no two ways about it. The Netherlands international has been on the books of Southampton since 2015, and over the past two seasons, he has shown what he is capable of.

Many would have been sceptical of Van Dijk when Southampton signed him from Scottish Premiership giants Celtic in the summer of 2015. It cost the Saints as much as £13 million in transfer fees, but the 26-year-old centre-back has proved to be worth every penny.

It should not come as a surprise to anyone that top clubs in England want to sign Van Dijk in the summer transfer window. Liverpool have been strongly linked with the former Groningen star, who is also reported to be on the radar of Tottenham Hotspur, who finished second in the Premier League last season. 

Liverpool could do with a centre-back of Van Dijk’s quality in their quest to finish in the top four for the second successive campaign. As for Spurs, if they bring in the Dutchman, then it would not be a bad idea to take advantage of a £20 free bet bonus and place it on the North London club to win the Premier League title next season at odds of 8/1 – they would become that strong in defence.

Southampton have stated on more occasions than one that they are not planning to sell Van Dijk in the summer transfer window, but every player has his price. A bid of over £40 million should be enough to convince the Saints to part company with the former Celtic star. After all, it is only a matter of time before the Dutchman leaves St. Mary’s Stadium. The 26-year-old’s stock is high at the moment, and it would make sense for Southampton to cash in on him and then bring in maybe a couple of young and promising centre-backs.

The Saints’ model of buying low and selling high has worked for a while now. Southampton took a chance on Van Dijk two years ago, and it worked. Instead of holding onto the defender for one more season, they should now be willing to let him leave this summer. There are plenty of young and promising defenders out there for the Saints to buy on the cheap this summer, develop them and then sell them at a high price in a few years’ time. Even if new manager Mauricio Pellegrino wants an established centre-back, he would still get to buy one with the money from Van Dijk’s sale and still have some change.

Celtic centre-back Erik Sviatchenko would not be a bad signing for Southampton; the 25-year-old Denmark international would come relatively cheap as well. Kieran Tierney is a left-back by trade, but the 20-year-old Celtic star could be moulded into a centre-back. Everton may not be willing to sell Mason Holgate in the summer transfer window, but the Saints could try to sign the 20-year-old, who can operate as a full-back or as a centre-back, on a season-long loan deal.

Charlie Austin’s fitness will be key in our upcoming season

Many Southampton fans are unhappy with how the 2016-17 season turned out, but should they be? There were many clubs that performed below par last season, and none more so than the former Champions Leicester City. Other teams like Manchester City, Stoke City and West Ham will all be looking for a big improvement on last term too. 

Southampton manager Claude Puel has come under criticism, but it’s kind of weird how a successful season comes back to haunt a club. Southampton came 6th in the league in the 2015-16 season and finished on 63pts. In the major football betting markets last season, the betting firms were clearly not fancying the Saints to repeat that. The problem that Claude Puel faced was twofold.

Had the Saints Peaked?

The fact is that Southampton are not a “top six” club despite coming 6th in the 2015-16 season. Their financial resources are far behind the traditional big six in England, so it was always going to be difficult for the Saints to replicate their previous form. Secondly (and something that went largely unnoticed) every single team in the top six finished last season with more points than the previous season.

This acted like a syphon on the rest of the division and led to many clubs being compressed in terms of points totals. An absolutely staggering 94pts more were earned by the top six clubs in the 2016-17 season, than in the previous year. This is a factor that must be taken into consideration when we look to assess Puel’s first season in the top flight of English football.

Southampton Faded

Many Saints fans were unhappy at how they finished the campaign, but they were not the only club to tail off towards the end. Southampton finished the season winning only two form their final nine, and it’s safe to say that such form is worrying for onlooking fans. However, there are a number of key factors that would have no doubt played their part in this poor run.

The shoulder injury to Charlie Austin was a big loss to the Saints, having fired in six goals in just thirteen appearances wearing the red and white stripes. A big negative for the Southampton fans over the 2016/17 season was their lack of goals overall, and this is an area that Puel (if he stays beyond this season) needs to correct.

Austin finished the season as the clubs highest scorer, and that is staggering considering he spent five months out injured. It’s clear that the Southampton fans expect greater contributions from players such as Shane Long, Jay Rodriguez and even Manolo Gabbiadini to some extent.

Long is a hit and miss striker and his stats are there back that up. Just 18 goals from 89 appearances won’t give opposing defenders sleepless nights before a game. As for Rodriguez, there are glimpses of his former self as games go by, but to tell the truth, he’s never been the same since that injury in 2014.

Gabbiadini arrived in the January transfer window from Napoli, where he scored 15 goals from 56 games, and a grand total of 42 goals during the entirety of his time in Italy. He kicked off life on South coast in immense form, scoring six from his first four appearances, but then ended the season on that same tally.

Do the Saints have the quality they need?

The fact is that Southampton clearly cannot go out and buy the top quality strikers like other clubs can. They need to stumble on a new “wonder kid” or another gem using their black box method to recruitment, and whilst the jury is still very much out on just how good Gabbiadini is, fans will want to see a greater involvement from the Italian come next season.

This makes Charlie Austin key to their chances of a successful year in the 2017-18 season. Austin has scored 93 goals in 183 games for Burnley, QPR and Southampton, and that goal every other game strike rate is exactly what the Saints need. They can’t just go into next season relying on Austin though, and they need better back up beyond Gabbiadini. Is it time for both Long and Rodriguez to move on?

Free-flowing attacking football has been engraved into the DNA of Southampton Football Club in recent years, and in order for fans to look back on the 2016-17 season as a strong building block, that needs to be corrected; I’m certain that Charlie Austin will play a vital role in doing so. 

Lap of depreciation

Last Sunday was the first time that I haven’t stayed for the lap of appreciation in my 16 seasons as a season ticket holder, which speaks volumes (I did have to get my eldest back to Uni, but that wouldn’t have stopped me before).

This was no reflection on the players, who I feel have played well individually and within the framework that they are presented. They have been professional throughout, but obviously aren’t enjoying the football.

If I’m being honest, it was an element of lethargy from me (probably derived from the style of play that I’d just witnessed again) and the fact that I had no desire to see and hear Puel being abused. He comes across as a reasonable character, professional, knowledgeable and with a clear style that he has communicated very well to the players.

From other fans perspective on the outside looking in (and no doubt with the benefit of hindsight, from our perspective in due course) his results have matched and exceeded his start of season brief – top half finish, cup final appearance and blooded youngsters. However, it’s passionless football. I’ve left St Marys of late without any emotions whatsoever. It’s effective, functional but not entertaining and that’s in a league (top 6 aside) that has been poor this season.

Yesterday was a missed opportunity to sign off the season with a smile, which makes me think he’s knows his fate already. All too often, the switched ball to an overlapping full back was on, but the full back was shackled / the midfield drove forward into a static wall (Austin(!) or Gabbi aside) of Saints and stoke players / the ball was worked to the goal line and cut back, to where a midfielder should have been, but wasn’t / the ball played into a central midfielder on the edge of the box had to be stopped and then returned to the deeper lying midfielder, as no runs were being made beyond. That wasn’t a case of unwilling, disinterested or lazy footballers, it was obviously the cautious system they were playing to.

As others have mentioned, in the second half of the last game of the season, at home, losing 1-0 to a pretty unadventurous Hughes side and with nothing to lose, why not try Austin and Gabbi together? Why, because it doesn’t fit the system.

Most worrying though is that the players don’t look happy. Bertrand is a classic case. He’s never been found wanting before, nearly always a 8/10 + in my books, but he’s looked frustrated and dare I say bored of late. He’s been professional but can’t wait to get off the pitch at the end of every match. Yesterday, at times he looked like he was wary of getting any knocks etc (protecting a move?).

With the lack of any real passion on the pitch (Oriel aside of course – THAT tackle!!) transferring to the stands, the inevitable happens in that the silence is only broken by moans and jeers (Forster, Targett and Tadic being the most recent recipients).

And so starts a downward cycle…

I don’t want to be negative (8th place, cup final, Europe, League 1) but it’s becoming difficult not to and I’m therefore convinced that something has to change.

One thing won’t change though …I’ll still be there, in my lucky pants, week in, week out ! COYR!

Southampton: A Prediction For The Rest Of The Season

Southampton finished the 2015/2016 Premier League campaign in sixth place in the standings and, as a result, they booked their place in the Europa League. For this special article of Southampton we teamed up with FootballPredictions.com, according to their predictions The Saints aim to repeat the success and it remains to be seen if their participation in the League Cup final is going to help them meet the goal.

Southampton chiefs were forced to sell several important players in the summer window, with coach Ronald Koeman taking over the reins at Everton. New signings obviously needed time to adapt to the new surroundings and that is the main reason why Claude Puel’s team sit in tenth position in the Premier League standings ahead of Matchday 30. However, the Saints did remarkably well to reach the League Cup final and that could help them save the season.

The St. Mary’s Stadium outfit produced a fine display in the title game at Wembley Stadium, but Manchester United eventually came from behind and won the League Cup trophy. Anyhow, Southampton have good chance of booking their place in the Europa League and they will represent England in the European competition should Jose Mourinho’s team happen to secure a top-five finish. Considering that the Red Devils have been in a thrilling form in 2017, there is every chance they will help Claude Puel’s charges make it to the Europa League.

Speaking of the English top flight, Southampton’s main goal is to finish the season in top ten. The Saints, though, are only nine points clear of bottom three in the Premier League standings, meaning that they will have to be at their sharpest in the remainder of the season if they are to avoid a shocking relegation to the Championship. Last season’s top scorer Graziano Pelle and key midfielder Victor Wanyama have been sorely missed in the 2016/2017 Premier League campaign and, no doubt, the club management will have to be very busy in the upcoming transfer window if they are to reinforce the squad.

Southampton have yet to face the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool in the second half of the season, meaning that their Premier League status could be in great danger in the season finale. The Saints need to collect as many points as possible from upcoming league fixtures against the likes of Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and WBA if they are to avoid the drop to the danger zone, but there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Claude Puel’s team need to take every single match very seriously if they are to retain their spot in top ten and the fact that they scored eight goals in total in victories over Sunderland and Watford is giving fans a reason for optimism.

Many football predictions suggest that Southampton will represent England in the Europa League next season, but their success depends on Manchester United. Given their tough fixture list, the Saints are unlikely to finish the season in the top half of the table, but they are definitely capable of securing yet another Premier League survival. If you are looking for more predictions of the Premier League, we suggest checking out this page: https://footballpredictions.com/footballpredictions/premierleaguepredictions/

Can Manchester United Recover From Their Bad Season

“Unlucky” was the term used by Mourinho to justify his side’s poor start to the 2016/17 campaign. 12 games into the season, United find themselves 6th in the table 9 points adrift of league leaders, Chelsea.

Even before United arrived at Wembley to play the 2016 FA Cup final against Palace, the writing was on the wall for Louis Van Gaal. The club had failed to qualify for the Champions League for the 2nd time in three seasons & the fans were vocal in their displeasure at the Dutchman’s reign at the top. Despite going onto win their 1st FA Cup title after a span of 12 years, Van Gaal was sacked within 48 hours of their triumph.

The appointment of Jose Mourinho, who himself had been sacked by Chelsea midway through the season, was thought to be the perfect choice for the club. Whether it be Porto, Chelsea, Inter or Real, Jose Mourinho has been a manager who has tasted success where ever he has been.

With almost one-third of the season having been played out, many are left wondering whether Mourinho has lost his Midas touch. United currently find themselves 6th in table with just 19 points from 12 games. United got off to the best possible start to season by winning the FA Community Shield and then following it up with three consecutive league wins.

The season took a sour turn following their 2-1 defeat at home to City & the club haven’t been able fully recover till now. Over the course of the last three months, United have been largely inconsistent taking two steps backward for every step they take forward. While the 3-1 defeat at the hands of Watford was shocking their 4-0 defeat at the hands of Chelsea was embarrassing. It was the first time since 1999 that United had a lost an away game in the Premier League by 4 or more goals.

Europa League didn’t do the club any favors as they found themselves 3rd in their group after 4 games into the competition. The EFL trophy has been their only “triumph” so far this season having reached the quarter-finals beating Manchester City 1-0 in the process. Despite all the negatives we’ve listed till now it should be noted that the club are slowly but surely recovering from their slump.

The club has only managed to pick up 5 points from their last three leagues games but to be fair to Mourinho & his men they should have won against both Burnley & Arsenal. United have also almost ensured themselves qualification to the knock-out stages of the Europa League having beaten  Feyenoord 4-0 at home in their 5th game of the group, the result was important but their performance as a team was almost perfect.

Apart from Eric Bailly, Antonio Valencia & Juan Mata none of the other United players have made a mark so far this season. Many of the players including Depay, Schneiderlin, Darmian, Phil Jones, Luke Shaw & Bastian Schweinsteiger have been frozen out of the side after failing to impress their manager. With names such as Griezmann, David Alaba & James Rodriguez being linked with the club right now it wouldn’t be a surprise if the club witnesses a mass exodus during the winter transfer window.

It would be a understatement to term Paul Pogba as a disappointment so far, the world’s most expensive player has certainly not lived up to his tag till now & has gone missing on one too many occasions this season. Zlatan despite having a strong start to the campaign has fallen off form & is missing sitters from 6 yards out. Arguably the biggest disappointment for United this season has been the form of Captain Wayne Rooney; the England international has failed to recover from his torrid time at Euro 2016 & has been relegated to the bench for both club & country.

Mourinho is someone who doesn’t alter his tactics according to his players, he insists on them playing his way & it may take time for them to adapt. If the club can build on their current run of form there is no reason as to why they can’t force themselves back into the top 4 & maybe even register a maiden Europa League win.

What now?

With qualification to the Europa League knockout stages almost confirmed, the club can focus on the Premier League & EFL Cup during the next two months. The do have a testing list of fixtures till the end of the year but if they can string some results together they should be able to stay in touch with the top 4 going into the 2nd half of the season.

Mourinho still expects his club to put in a title challenge however the bookies have relegated them to 5th favorites for the title with William Hill who has complete coverage of the football matches today from A-Z football teams – check who to bet on and  giving them odds of 25/1 to win the title.

Supporting Southampton from across the pond

I’ve been following soccer for a while now. Sorry, I’ve been following football for a while now. I’ve played since I was just a little boy, and growing up I only really knew the big names: Man United, Barcelona, Real Madrid. I knew nothing about any other teams, but I started learning more about them as my football viewing kept on.

I eventually found myself admiring Southampton for the same reasons any fan might. I like watching attractive football, I like the idea of supporting a team with young talented prospects, and who doesn’t like to root for an underdog every now and again?

But the one thing that kept me tuning into Saints games was simple. Southampton to me, seemed to be a club that wholly trusted itself. Regardless of what the premier league throws the team’s way, the Saints keep producing because they believe in their philosophy.

I don’t know any other Americans who support Southampton. American EPL fans will recognize the club, FIFA players will be familiar with its players, but beyond that there’s no one. I think there’s a good chance that I’m the only American Southampton supporter in the world.

My friends will continue to follow their clubs: United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton. (I even know a Watford supporter, believe it or not). But I’m good with that. I’m going to root for the Saints.

This year, at the start of the EPL season, I decided to really increase my following of Southampton. Like, truly become a supporter. It didn’t bother me that I thought we’d be in for a tough season. Sure, I wanted to win loads of games and push on to bigger and better achievements, but I was realistic. I was extremely skeptical of implementing a diamond in midfield, and although I was thoroughly excited at the purchase of Nathan Redmond – who I’m a huge fan of – were we really going to be testing him as a striker?

But as it turns out, we’ve done well at implementing both of those things and more.  

I’ve watched all the games, or at least as many as I could, and to be honest, I’m pretty happy overall. Heading toward Christmas-time and looking at where we stand in the table, I think we’ve fared decently. We’ve had many quality outings, especially in the Europa League, and our football has been good. As Puel said early on, attractive football can “give pleasure to the players,” but it “gives pleasure to the fans also.” I think if we trust how we’ve been playing, success will come.

Southampton’s identity is something that I will respect for as long as it remains intact – it’s a truly unique thing in modern football. That, plus the continued success of recent years, is truly irresistible from my perspective. There’s still plenty more twists and turns in the remainder of this season, but in this moment, I’m hopeful we can fight for yet another high finish.

We march on.

Written by Nick Thelen – @itsmenickyt

An analysis of Southampton’s attacking flair over the years

Despite the fact that Southampton FC have only been back in the Premier League for four years, we as fans have seen a number of “exoduses” – as the media would label them – and an influx of new players every Summer. We have lost players in every position and consequently, we have been forced into rebuilding in every position; in some cases we have recruited younger, more talented players at a cheaper price, but there have also been some players who have not lived up to expectation, despite the club’s continued progress and development.

However, I would like to focus on the role of the attacking midfielder at Southampton Football Club. In the last month, Saints have broken their record club transfer fee with the signing of Sofiane Boufal for a reported £16million from LOSC Lille, a player who entices the St Mary’s faithful greatly. We have also this week been linked with Hatem Ben Arfa, who has just signed for Paris Saint-Germain. In my opinion, however, this is simply lazy journalism from several media outlets; Puel was praised with saving HBA’s career and HBA has fallen out with Unai Emery, so putting those two together makes for an easy story. Finally this week, young Jake Hesketh put in a stellar performance against Crystal Palace in the EFL cup, coming in for Tadić in the number 10 role, he made some fantastic passes and even scored a well-taken goal. Now with all of these players, rumours, performances and most importantly, our emphasis on a narrow system with the number 10 being the main creative outlet, I wanted to discuss the role of the attacking midfielder at Southampton FC since our return to the Premier League.

The first and probably most controversial of these players would be Adam Lallana; a fan favourite for many years whose reputation was tarnished after leaving to Liverpool. Despite the fact that many Saints fans will still despise Lallana for the way he left, none can deny his quality and malleability. He can play on both wings, behind the striker and can play in almost any tactical system.

Jurgen Klopp seems to have him down as one of the first names on his Liverpool team-sheet every weekend too; Lallana always creates chances and even scores a few goals, despite the fact that he is competing with other brilliant players in Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mané. The way in which Lallana dribbles with the ball makes up for his lack of pace that so many other wingers/attacking midfielders rely on, and the way he can pick out a pass means he is far more reliable than other players with whom he has had to compete against. However, whether Lallana would work in Saints’ current system is not 100% certain; Puel forces the strikers out wide, with the false-9 pressing centrally when Southampton lose the ball, therefore pressing the fullbacks and centre-backs simultaneously. In addition, Lallana has a tendency to push out wide to look for space rather than play more narrowly, which is where Puel wants his attacking midfielder. I have no doubts over Lallana’s quality, but he is very different to other players who would fit in more comfortably under Puel, and others who would have been the focal point of Koeman’s system.

Secondly, we have Dušan Tadić; a player of great quality who was brought in to replace Lallana himself. His crossing and passing are second to none, with the third most assists by any player in the past two Premier League seasons combined. His ability to beat a man with his dribbling and skill is fantastic to watch, despite his lack of pace that, again, most wingers and attacking midfielders rely on. Tadić has become a fan favourite due to his ability to flourish in every system he has played in; this includes the 4-3-3 under Koeman, the 5-2-1-2 which Koeman used during a slump in his reign as Saints manager, the 442 diamond, and finally, in Puel’s new system, where he plays a very similar role to that which he played in the short-lived wing-backs formation under Koeman. However, Tadić does have the tendency to drift out wide instead of staying in the centre.  He doesn’t seem to be as comfortable pressing up the pitch, as he only wants to attack and create, but he still has great ability to drop into pockets of space between the lines, which many players would miss. His vision and footballing brain are what separates him from other stereotypical wingers or attacking midfielders, and it is also the reason that I think he is a better player than Lallana, with his stunning deliveries from set-pieces allowing more threats from free-kicks and corners. I, as a Saints fan, am very excited to see how Tadić grows this season as the main outlet of creativity, as I hope his fluid style and flair shine through, whilst also learning how to move into that pressing false-9 role when on the defence. This could be a career-defining season for Tadić, as he looks to become the complete trequartista that can bring deeper-lying players into the game, score goals and make fantastic runs, rather than just being another Premier League playmaker.

Thirdly, we have one of the brightest young talents in European football at the moment; Sadio Mané. Despite only playing for Southampton for two seasons, Mané proved himself time and time again as an explosive threat, who can provide pace down the wing, yet still play down the middle as a second striker.

He has all the makings of a brilliant premier league player; his dribbling is incredible and he is one of the quickest players in the league, but under a manager such as Jurgen Klopp, I believe that he can fine tune the things that are holding him back from reaching the same level as the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Eden Hazard; his finishing and his passing.

His movement, however, is up there with the best in the Premier League and I am intrigued to see how he develops in the coming seasons, as Mané could provide the injection of pace and the spark that Liverpool have been missing – this could potentially allow them to truly challenge for the Champions League. However, it almost seemed as though he needed the team to revolve around him, rather than every player fluidly working and communicating together to ensure that the team’s system became the priority. This is what Puel, and many other managers want in from their players, which is why the loss of Mané may not be as hard-felt as many Saints fans want to believe.  However, with that said, Puel is credited with bringing Hatem Ben Arfa’s career back from the dead; a man who believed that he was bigger than every team he played for, who wanted the system to play for him rather than vice-versa. In this regard, I would have loved to see Mané play under Puel, to see how the aforementioned Senegalese winger developed even further at St. Mary’s.

Finally, we have Sofiane Boufal – Southampton’s brand new £16million club record signing, who has come into the club off the back of a fantastic season with LOSC Lille. Of which he scored 11 goals in 29 league games in Ligue 1 from left wing. He has already been likened to Eden Hazard, Riyad Mahrez and Dimitri Payet, comparisons which are going to make Saints fans believe that he can be the “new Sadio Mané”. But with regards to Boufal’s qualities and nuances; I would never claim to be a connoisseur of French league football, as it is a league that has not interested me as much as the likes of La Liga or the Premier League. With that said, I have read about Boufal since his arrival at Southampton; he seems to be a left winger who loves to cut inside onto his favoured right foot, constantly wanting to shoot or create chances for his team. It seems that he possesses the dribbling, skills and pace that can fill the gap that Mané has left. He will look to play directly on the left wing with the intention to dictate play in the way that Hazard so often does, whilst also holding the skill set to cut inside and score.

Although, I am very intrigued to see how he fits into Puel’s narrow system; Redmond has made the conversion to a striker, Tadić has become our star central attacking midfielder and all of the strikers are learning to drift wide without the ball, so as to suffocate the possibilities of the opposition playing out from the back. Yet Boufal has been known to play as a left winger, so, in this case I am really interested to see if Puel decides to play him as our main Number 10 (even with Tadić playing well and Hesketh wanting to breakthrough) or if he is one of the two strikers who drifts out wide during the game, as he is already used to.

Quite simply, “Attacking midfielder” is far too broad of a term nowadays, as there are so many intricacies when it comes to each player. Some are strictly wingers who look to break away and win games with their crosses, and some are inside forwards who wish to cut inside and win a game all on their own by scoring after a fantastic run into the box.

Dušan Tadić will be extremely important for Southampton FC this season as they look to use the narrow system to penetrate teams under Claude Puel; I’m hoping that Tadić himself becomes a complete trequartista, who is able to dictate the tempo of a game, make passes that others would not even see, and to even make runs and score solo goals – something that his game is currently lacking. I firmly believe that Tadić will be able to take the bull by the horns and fine tune his game to become the style of player that Saints need him to be, in the puppet-master role as Kevin De Bruyne has done for Manchester City.

I am also very confident that Sofiane Boufal will hit the ground running, as Sadio Mané did before him, due to the fact that the club place a lot of emphasis on flourishing talents from not just England, but from all over the world. We as Saints fans hope that he can be the new Riyad Mahrez or Dimitri Payet, pulling defences apart on both flanks whilst allowing his central teammates to make shadowing runs and also to create from the centre too. Should these players live up to expectation, Southampton again are in for another fantastic season. to implement our brilliant academy graduates too. 

Once again though, Southampton FC have a good mix of quality and depth allowing for competition in all of the attacking midfield positions. There is pace and power, skill and dribbling, and also distinct passing and crossing ability, in addition, Southampton also have the possibility to turn to their brilliant academy. Bear in mind that others in the U23s and U18s will be looking to push on under a manager who favours young players too. Saints fans will be more than pleased come May, as I expect attractive, fluid and dominant football with lots of ball possession – which is what fans truly want to see at their football club.