The week leading up to the start of a brand new Premier League season is usually filled with people making various predictions about what could happen over the next nine months or so.
With the danger of this coming back to bite us, we’ve decided to join in with the attempted forecasts with five predictions of our own:
Saints to do the double over Leicester
One of my favourite statistics that I can remember came during last season; Southampton accumulated more Premier League points than Leicester City in the 28 games that followed the latter hitting nine past the Saints at St Mary’s last October.
During that time, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side had already gained revenge over the Foxes by winning 2-1 at the King Power Stadium after the then-hosts played all nine goals from the earlier clash on the big screen during the warm-up.
Saints were determined to prove to everyone just how far they had come since that night and were duly rewarded and, despite going into a new campaign, that mauling will likely remain as extra motivation when the two face up again.
There is a chance that the two sides could be competing for a similar finishing position next season which could make these clashes even more important.
A double over Leicester may finally be enough for pundits to look beyond the 9-0 result as the basis for their analysis and for Saints to firmly put that result behind them.
Southampton will reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup
One pleasing aspect of Hasenhuttl’s time at Staplewood is how seriously he has taken the FA Cup, particularly last season.
The Saints were cruelly knocked out of the cup in the fourth round replay last campaign following a 3-2 defeat to Spurs that was ultimately won by a highly controversial penalty after Son Heung-Min went over very easily in the box.
Should they have progressed, Saints would’ve faced a Norwich City side that finished bottom of the Premier League for a place in the quarter-finals where they would’ve taken on Manchester United.
This shows how a cup run can be (relatively) easily achieved if you place it high on your priority list.
This prediction is highly dependent on the draws (Saints could easily draw Liverpool away in the third round and get knocked out straight away) but it’s one that is certainly doable for Hasenhuttl’s side.
It’s also worth pointing out that this is a minimum requirement and will still be correct if the side defy the odds by reaching the final four, but we don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves do we?
Both Danny Ings and Che Adams will reach double figures
It’s no easy feat for a club like Southampton to see two of their players reach double figures in a Premier League campaign.
In fact, the last time Saints achieved this was in the superb 2015/16 season where the side finished sixth with Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle both scoring 11 league goals.
But I have a feeling this could be matched if not bettered by the club’s current strike partnership of Danny Ings and Che Adams.
Not much needs to be said about Ings as his 2019/20 campaign speaks for itself following a 22-goal haul, just one shy of Golden Boot winner Jamie Vardy, and you’d struggle to find someone who doesn’t think he’ll at least reach double figures again.
The bigger debate is with Adams who had to wait until his 25th appearance and 22nd shot in the Premier League before getting off the mark after his arrival at the club last summer.
But the 24-year old went on somewhat of a roll after the relief of scoring his first goal, ending the season with four strikes following a late finish at Bournemouth and a double against Sheffield United.
Adams strikes me as a momentum player who, when full of confidence, has the ability to trouble opposing defences which could make the Ings/Adams partnership an incredibly hard-working and potentially lethal one, thus I predict both to reach a minimum of 10 Premier League goals.
West Ham and Michael Antonio to punish Saints again
No matter what the season is, no matter how well Southampton are playing or how badly West Ham are competing, the Hammers always seem to find a way to triumph over the south coast club.
West Ham have won more Premier League games against Southampton than they have against any other side with 17 and have also won five consecutive games in this Premier League fixture; their joint-longest winning run against an opponent in the competition.
After winning their first ever game at the London Stadium 3-0 in 2016, Saints’ last three visits to east London have been frightful, losing 3-0 twice and 3-1 last time out.
All these games also came in the latter stages of the season (March, May and February respectively) when points were vital, often in relegation scraps, but Saints just seemed to struggle to cope with West Ham’s usual physical style.
First it was Marko Arnautovic who caused nightmares for Saints fans after bagging doubles in both of the 3-0 reverses – the first of which plunged the side into massive relegation danger in Mark Hughes’ first league game in charge.
Then came another direct striker in Michael Antonio to tear through a suspect defence in both clashes last season, having a goal disallowed at St Mary’s before a goal and assist at the London Stadium.
Hasenhuttl will hope that this is the campaign where they end their West Ham hoodoo but I predict that the Hammers will still find a way to come out on top.
Southampton will finish in…
It feels like a lifetime ago that Claude Puel’s side bombed out of the Europa League following a 1-1 draw at home to Hapoel Be’er Sheva in 2016.
Since then, Saints have finished in 8th, 17th 16th and 11th with none of those campaigns threatening the European places.
However, next season seems the most likely since then for a Europa League push with the club seemingly finally finding the right formulae.
A realistic finishing position for Hasenhuttl’s side is likely to be around 8th-12th; should the Saints end the campaign in the top-half, it will be a fourth straight year that the side have improved on their league position.
Competition for these places are likely to come from Wolves (who could be very strong without European competition to distract them), Everton (who have bought well), Leicester City and potentially a couple of wildcards such as Sheffield United, Newcastle or Burnley.
My final prediction is that Saints will finish in a cautiously optimistic 9th place (behind Wolves and Everton) which I think most fans would happily take now.