This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Southampton kick off their 2019/20 Premier League season with a trip to Burnley.
The south coast outfit will be looking for a much better campaign this time around following two successive relegation battles, and the signs were certainly promising under manager Ralph Hasenhuttl last time out as they took 30 points from the Austrian’s 23 top flight matches in charge.
Having only racked up nine points up until Mark Hughes’ sacking in December, the onus is on the squad to get off to a much better start this term, beginning at Turf Moor.
The squad has been boosted with the additions of Che Adams, Moussa Djenepo and Kevin Danso, but how will they line up against Sean Dyche’s side?
We take a look below.
Following a busy pre-season schedule, I am tipping Hasenhuttl to go with exactly the same XI that started the 2-0 friendly win against Cologne at St Mary’s last weekend.
In truth, there is probably only one spot in the side up for grabs right now, and that is who plays alongside Jannik Vestergaard and Jan Bednarek in central defence.
Despite the former RB Leipzig coach preferring a 4-2-2-2 system at previous clubs, he has usually favoured a back five during his time on the south coast – as he did last Saturday.
Jack Stephens got the nod over Maya Yoshida, and his ability to bring the ball out of defence should mean he is selected against the Clarets, even if he does have an error in him such as his last-gasp handball at Turf Moor in February.
Meanwhile, Angus Gunn starts in goal having played more minutes than Alex McCarthy during pre-season, while Ryan Bertrand and Yan Valery are the wing-backs.
The other decision Hasenhuttl has to make if he is only playing two central midfielders is who misses out between captain Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, James Ward-Prowse and Oriol Romeu, and it is the latter we believe will start from the substitutes’ bench.
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Up top, the exciting front three of Nathan Redmond, Danny Ings and new boy Che Adams should be unleashed, and the latter two in particular have been in decent form during pre-season with three goals apiece, while the former was the 2018/19 players’ and fans’ player of the year.