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Southampton season preview - predictions, fixtures, summer signings, starting XI

Sports Mole takes an in-depth look at Southampton ahead of the start of the 2020-21 Premier League season.

Southampton will be looking to build on an encouraging first full season under Ralph Hasenhuttl during the upcoming campaign.

The Saints ended 2019-20 sitting 11th in the table and will head into the new season feeling optimistic that they can push for a first top-half finish since 2016-17.

Here, Sports Mole takes an in-depth look at how they might fare during the 2020-21 campaign.

How did they fare last season?

Southampton players celebrate Che Adams's goal against Manchester City on July 5, 2020© Reuters

Quite well in the end.

There was a stage where things looked very bleak for the Saints last season and the ignominy of a 9-0 home defeat at the hands of Leicester City - the largest home loss in Premier League history - appeared to be a point of no return for manager Ralph Hasenhuttl.

Two more defeats followed immediately afterwards to leave Southampton with only one point from the last 21 on offer and sitting 19th in the table, three points adrift of safety.

To their immense credit, the Southampton board kept faith with the manager and they were rewarded; Hasenhuttl's side took 20 points from the next 30 available including wins over Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and - cathartically - gaining revenge on Leicester in the reverse fixture.

Southampton ended the season with a seven-game unbeaten run which included victory over Manchester City and a draw at Old Trafford, eventually finishing in 11th place and with their best points tally since 2015-16.

Such a turnaround looked improbable at best following the nadir of that Leicester humiliation, but there were also plenty of high points to look back on with some big Premier League scalps and an EFL Cup thrashing of local rivals Portsmouth.

Biggest improvement needed

Home form.

For a team that ended up finishing only two points off the top half, Southampton's home form last season was shockingly bad even discounting the 9-0 defeat to Leicester, with only Norwich City picking up fewer points on their own patch.

Ralph Hasenhuttl's side lost 10 times at St Mary's - again, only Norwich fared worse - and managed only 21 points throughout the campaign, which was in stark contrast to their away form.

Only Liverpool and Manchester City amassed more points on the road, with the Saints winning more, losing less, scoring more and conceding less on their travels than they managed at home.

Manager: Ralph Hasenhuttl

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl pictured on June 19, 2020© Reuters

Ralph Hasenhuttl arrived in England two years ago having earned comparisons to Jurgen Klopp following a stint in charge of RB Leipzig, whom he guided to second in the Bundesliga during his first season at the helm.

The Premier League's first ever Austrian manager looked destined for the sack at one stage last season with Southampton struggling in general in addition to their humiliation at home to Leicester.

However, the 53-year-old turned things around to such an extent that he was instead handed a new four-year contract in June and then was named Premier League manager of the month in July.

Key player: Danny Ings

Southampton striker Danny Ings pictured in July 2020© Reuters

Even Danny Ings himself may have been surprised at just how well he fared in his first season as a permanent Southampton player, scoring 22 league goals and 25 in all competitions.

The 28-year-old's form has been good enough to earn him an England recall and, if he has another equally prolific season this term, he would appear nailed on for a spot at next summer's European Championship.

Ings alone scored 43.1% of Southampton's Premier League goals last season - the highest proportion in the league - and is only the third Saints player to hit 20 or more goals in a single campaign in the division.

Summer transfer business

Southampton full-back Kyle Walker-Peters pictured in July 2020© Reuters

Kyle Walker-Peters (£12m, Tottenham Hotspur)
Mohammed Salisu (£10.8m, Real Valladolid)
Ibrahima Diallo (£13.5m, Brest)
Theo Walcott (loan, Everton)

Cedric Soares (undisclosed, Arsenal)
Mohamed Elyounoussi (loan, Celtic)
Jack Rose (free, Walsall)
Maya Yoshida (released)
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (£14.9m, Tottenham Hotspur)
Aaron O'Driscoll (free, Mansfield)
Mario Lemina (loan, Fulham)
Harrison Reed (£5.9m, Fulham)
Alfie Jones (undisclosed, Hull City)
Wesley Hoedt (loan, Lazio)
Guido Carrillo (free, Elche)
Sofiane Boufal (loan, Angers)
Josh Sims (loan, Doncaster Rovers)
Jake Hesketh (loan, Crawley Town)
Angus Gunn (loan, Stoke City)

Southampton total spent to date: £36.3m
Southampton total received to date: £22.8m

Southampton net transfer balance: -£13.5m


1. Alex McCarthy (GK)
2. Kyle Walker-Peters (DF)
3. Ryan Bertrand (DF)
4. Jannik Vestergaard (DF)
5. Jack Stephens (DF)
6. Oriol Romeu (MF)
7. Shane Long (FW)
8. James Ward-Prowse (MF)
9. Danny Ings (FW)
10. Che Adams (FW)
11. Nathan Redmond (MF)
12. Moussa Djenepo (MF)
14. Michael Obafemi (FW)
17. Stuart Armstrong (MF)
18. Yan Valery (DF)
19. Sofiane Boufal (MF)
20. Will Smallbone (MF)
22. Mohammed Salisu (DF)
23. Nathan Tella (MF)
28. Angus Gunn (GK)
29. Jake Vokins (DF)
35. Jan Bednarek (DF)
41. Harry Lewis (GK)
44. Fraser Forster (GK)
- Wesley Hoedt (DF)
- Sam McQueen (DF)
- Jake Hesketh (MF)
- Guido Carrillo (FW)

Possible starting XI


Fixture list

Southampton open their campaign away to Crystal Palace on Saturday before welcoming Tottenham Hotspur to St Mary's in their first home game of the season.

The New Year could not get off to a much more difficult start as the Saints host Liverpool in their first match of 2021, and that kicks off a tricky January with Leicester and Arsenal also to come after that.

May begins with a home game against Leicester - the fixture they lost 9-0 in last season - and a trip to Anfield before ending the campaign away to West Ham United.

Danny Ings celebrates scoring for Southampton against Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup in February 2020© Reuters


12: Crystal Palace (a)

19: Tottenham (h)

26: Burnley (a)


3: West Brom (h)

17: Chelsea (a)

24: Everton (h)

31: Aston Villa (a)


7: Newcastle (h)

21: Wolves (a)

28: Manchester United (h)

Southampton players celebrate Che Adams's goal against Manchester City on July 5, 2020© Reuters


5: Brighton (a)

12: Sheffield United (h)

15: Arsenal (a)

19: Manchester City (h)

26: Fulham (a)

28: West Ham (h)


2: Liverpool (h)

12: Leeds (a)

16: Leicester (a)

27: Arsenal (h)

30: Aston Villa (h)

Michael Obafemi wheels away in celebration after scoring Southampton's equaliser against Manchester United on July 13, 2020© Reuters


2: Manchester United (a)

6: Newcastle (a)

13: Wolves (h)

20: Chelsea (h)

27: Everton (a)


6: Sheffield United (a)

13: Brighton (h)

20: Tottenham (a)


3: Burnley (h)

10: West Brom (a)

17: Crystal Palace (h)

24: Manchester City (a)

A general shot of the match between Southampton and Leicester in October 2019© Reuters


1: Leicester (h)

8: Liverpool (a)

12: Fulham (h)

15: Leeds (h)

23: West Ham (a)

Prediction: 10th

Southampton were a team very much on the up in the second half of last season and they will fancy their chances of finishing in the top half this time around if they can avoid another bad start.

The signing of Mohammed Salisu is an exciting one for the Saints - the young centre-back had been linked with the likes of Manchester United before moving to St Mary's - and there is a nice blend of youth and experience in the team now.

One of the elements which could have a big impact on their final position is whether Ings can enjoy as prolific a season this time around - if he does then a European push may not be out of the question.

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