It’s been a pretty poor start for Southampton this season as they adjust to Claude Puel’s methods.
Their latest new manager in a short space of time is still waiting for his first Premier League victory after two draws and two losses but now attention must turn to their Europa League campaign.
The club have found themselves a long way away from the performances that got them to this stage from last season but perhaps participation in the competition will come as a welcome distraction on which they can then kick on from.
The south coast side start with a home game against Sparta Prague on Thursday night before also facing Hapoel Be’er Sheva and Inter Milan in the group and on the face of it, the Saints will feel they can qualify for the knockout rounds.
How such a run would affect their Premier League form remains to be seen but for now they need to be focussing on the team from the Czech Republic.
With this in mind then, we think this three will be key to winning the game and so a good performance is needed from them…
Fonte gave away the last minute penalty at the weekend that ensured Southampton lost the game against Arsenal and he hasn’t looked quite up to his usual standards so far this term.
What the reason for that is is up for debate but Saints will be hoping the Portuguese international gets back to his best in time for the start of their Europa League campaign, he is vital.
Long hasn’t really got going this season much like many of the south coast club’s players. He does, however, have bags of pace to frighten the Sparta defence and it should only be a matter of time before he starts scoring freely.
Once he does the Saints will be looking much stronger not only in Europe but in the Premier League too as he is their main striker.
Redmond has been the Saints best player so far this season and so it could come down to him in regards to how well they do.
Like Long, he has bundles of pace to get at defences and should relish the chance to perform on a stage like this. He seems like a player that won’t go hiding from the ball too and that could be key in these early group games especially.