Barclays Premier League Preview: Southampton
Manager: Claude Puel
Stadium: St. Mary’s Stadium (Capacity: 32,505)
Captain: Jose Fonté
Top Scorer: Graziano Pelle and Sadio Mané (11)
Biggest Signing: Nathan Redmond (£11 million)
Last Season: 6th
Southampton have overachieved over the last two years and Koeman has built a squad capable of challenging the best..that is until he left this summer.
Although the club have seen a large number of departures over the last two years it feels as though the loss of Koeman could be the one that is felt the most on the south coast.
Southampton have an ability to play an attacking, exciting brand of football with a talented set of midfielders and attacking wide players offering width and pace. This coupled with prolific finishers made Southampton a feared force last year.
Austin will be hoping to start more this season as Pelle moves to China.
They have lost many of their core players that were there to create the chances whilst also losing both their top scorers, it will be interesting to see if they have ready made replacements or if they may become a poor man’s Arsenal, all this talent and excitement but without the glue to hold it all together.
Saints will not be threatened by relegation but I also think the top half will be unattainable for the club. A lot of this though will depend on the man management and gameplan utilised by new manager Puel.
In terms of recruitment the outgoing list dwarfs the incoming one, they have lost some seriously talented players that were key to Southampton’s outstanding 6th placed finish this season.
Nathan Redmond (Norwich City, £11 million)
Pierre Emile-Hojbjerg (Bayern Munich, Undisclosed)
Sadio Mané (Liverpool, £34 million)
Graziano Pelle (Shandong Luneng, Undisclosed)
Victor Wanyama (Tottenham Hotspur, Undisclosed)
Juanmi (Real Sociedad, Undisclosed)
Gaston Ramirez (Middlesborough, Released)
Kelvin Davis (Retired)
Southampton will be looking to bolster their squad further with them currently looking at goalkeeper Alex McCarthy.
My Southampton XI (4-2-3-1): 44 F.Forster; 2 C.Soares, 6 J.Fonté (Captain), 17 V. Van Dijk, 21 R.Bertrand; 16 J.Ward-Prowse, 8 S.Davis; NA N.Redmond, 7 S.Long, 11 D.Tadic; 28 C.Austin
Barclays Premier League Preview: Stoke City
Manager: Mark Hughes
Stadium: Brittania Stadium (Capacity: 27,902)
Captain: Ryan Shawcross
Top Scorer: Marko Arnautovic (11)
Biggest Signing: Joe Allen (£13 million)
Last Season: 9th
Stoke have made some impressing strides of late and have clambered up to being a fairly consistent mid-table side even if they did start the season struggling to find goals.
When you have quality like Xherdan Shaqiri and Ibrahim Afellay you can produce some good football whoever your opponents may be.
Stoke have the following to keep building and keep striving to outdo their nearest rivals with some good football and entertaining attacking coupled with strong defending makes them a formidable side.
They have leaders across the pitch, Shawcross, Adam, Crouch all of whom have huge amounts of experience and have given this team a real identity.
In terms of transfers Stoke have made the most of their money brining in two acquisition to make a difference whilst cutting the deadweight loose.
Joe Allen (Liverpool, £13 million)
Ramadan Sobhi (Al Ahly, £5 million)
Ben Barber (York City, Free)
Yusuf Coban (1899 Hoffenheim, Free)
Dominic Kurasik (Brentford, Free)
Alex Grant (Perth Glory, Released)
Peter Odemwingie (Released)
It looks as though much of Stoke’s business is now completed, the chase for Berahino has gone cold now. It remains to be seen what else could be done before the season starts.
Joe Allen could make a real difference.
My Stoke City XI (4-2-3-1): 1 J.Butland; 8 G.Johnson, 20 G.Cameron, 17 R.Shawcross (Captain), 3 E.Pieters; 4 J.Allen, 6 G.Whelan; 10 M.Arnautovic, 14 I.Afellay, 22 X.Shaqiri; 18 MB Diouf
Barclays Premier League Preview: Sunderland AFC
Manager: David Moyes
Stadium: Stadium of Light (Capacity: 49,000)
Captain: John O’Shea
Top Scorer: Jermain Defoe (15)
Biggest Signing: Not Applicable
Last Season: 17th
Sunderland did very well at the tail end of last season as Allardyce steered them to safety sending Newcastle and Norwich down on the penultimate match of the season.
One man that was instrumental in Sunderland’s survival was former Tottenham striker Defoe who picked up a healthy 15 Premier League goals last season for the Black Cats.
Defoe has a stunning strike record.
Sunderland have lost Sam Allardyce to England and must rebuild under Scotsman Moyes who takes his first job since being sacked as Real Sociedad manager. Sunderland are much a club in the Everton mould when Moyes first took over there.
The squad is full of experienced international players who most of whom are past their best but possess a wealth of knowledge regarding the Premier League.
Sunderland should have enough quality to see off other strugglers like Bournemouth and Swansea and if Defoe is kept well supplied up front there is no reason the veteran striker cannot score the tally he racked up this season.
Recruitment wise it has been very poor, no new faces plus a bunch of high profile departures, Sunderland’s transfer strategy has been woeful.
David Moyes is the only new face.
Emanuele Giaccherini (Napoli, £2 million)
Santigo Vergini (Boca Juniors, £1.5 million)
Steven Fletcher (Sheffield Wednesday, Free)
Martin Smith (Kilmarnock, Free)
Danny Graham (Blackburn Rovers, Released)
Wes Brown (Released)
Steve Harper (Released)
They have lost some big names there, Giaccherini will be missed the most, failure to pull in any other players and with very few rumours, panic buying may be Moyes’ strategy come August.
My Sunderland XI (4-1-3-1-1): 25 V.Mannone; 2 B.Jones, 16 J.O’Shea (Captain), 15 Y.Kaboul, 3 P. Van Aanholt; 6 L.Cattermole; 14 J.Gomez, 8 J.Rodwell, 7 S.Larsson; 22 W.Khazri; 18 J.Defoe