Before the 14/15 Premier League season Southampton lost Luke Shaw to Manchester United, Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren to Liverpool and Calum Chambers to Arsenal.
If that wasn’t enough, manager Mauricio Pochettino went to Tottenham after a terrific season, bringing the team to 8. place in the league, and also their top scorer Jay Rodriguez was out all season with a knee injury.
Luckily the man to replace Pochettino was no other than Ronald Koeman. Koemann made quick changes and Shaw was replaced with Ryan Betrand on loan, and Toby Alderweireld came from Atletico Madrid to replace Dejan Lovren. Along with these two, goalkeeper Fraser Forster came to strengthen the defensive part of the team.
Offensively Graziano Pellé, Sadio Mané, Dusan Tadic and Shane Long came to replace Lambert and Lallana. This made the squad look, if not better than last season, atleast the gaps were filled with quality players.
Apart from the games against Tottenham and Liverpool, Ronald Koemans boys saw themselves undefeated in the first 12 rounds of last years Premier League. From the middle of September to December Southampton occupied one of the Champions League spots.
Southampton kept their form in 22 rounds of Premier Leauge football, however, in the last 16 games The Saints only managed to win five times which dropped them down to 7th place. The fans got a consolation for their terrible form in the last game against Aston Villa, where they smashed the guests 6-1 with the fastest hat-trick ever recorded in the Premier League by Sadio Mané. Finishing 7th in the league last year means that Southampton will play in Europe for the first time since 2003 in the 15/16 season.
Last year, one of the main reasons for Southamptons success were their great job defending themselves. The Saints was the team with next to fewest goals against last season with their 33. Fraser Forster who came from Celtic last summer was one of the reasons. His injury from March until the end of the season is definitely one of the reasons for Southamptons poor form towards the end.
Fraser Forster is expected to be out for another year after a fracture in his knee cap and because of this Ronald Koemann saw fit to bring in a replacement in Maarten Stekelenburg. Earlier first team choice for Holland, Stekelenburg has 54 national team appearances along with nine seasons in Ajax, two in Roma and one in Fulham.
Yet again Southampton has to make changes in their back four. This time its Nathaniel Clyne and Toby Alderweireld to leave the club. Replacing Clyne on the right back will be former Sporting player Cédric Soares or Cuco Martina.
In central defence, 32 year old Steven Caulker has arrived after being relegated two years in a row. First with Cardiff and then last year with QPR, relegation will not be in question for Caulker this year as their defence still look strong as ever.
It’s in midfield the summer transfers will be felt the most, especially after star Morgan Schneiderlins departure to Manchester United. His direct replacement will be Jordy Clasie from Feyenoord. The 24 year old has already played four seasons in the top division in Holland, along with 11 national team appearances. He’ll likely form the central midfield together with Victor Wanyama and Steven Davis. Southampton also have players like James Ward-Prowse, Harris Reed and Sam McQueen who all will get their chance in the lineup this season. Serbian Duas Tadic who came from FC Twente last year showed glimpses of what he can do last season with four goals and seven assists he should be even more lethal this year together with Sadio Mané on the oppsite wing. Mané scored the famous recordbreaking hat-trick in the last game of the season which took him to a tally of 10 goals.
Italian Graziano Pellé came from Feyenoord last season netting 11 times for The Saints and he’ll likely be the starting striker in Koemanns often used 4-5-1 formation. He’s also added Juanmi from Málaga who’s more of a backroom threat than towering Pellé. Together with Shane Long and Jay Rodriguez who’s back from injury Koemann might play with more strikes this year in several games.
There’s no doubt that the Southampton squad under Koemann still looks strong, but it’s doubtfull they’ll increase their position in the standings with the players coming in. The Saints will most likely end up somewhere between 6th and 9th. You can watch all of Southamptons games on livescore at altomtipping.com along with teams news for the whole Premier League 15/16 season.