Date: 6th August 2015 at 10:15am
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Formed: 1885 Manager: Ronald Koeman Stadium: St Mary’s Capacity: 32,505 Previous years in Premier League: 16 Last 3 seasons: 2014-15: 7th 2013-14: 8th 2012-13: 14th Best finish: 7th (2014/15)  Opening day fixture: Newcastle (A), Aug 9 Final day fixture: Crystal Palace (H), May 15

This season’s aim:

30 July 2015 - UEFA Europa League - Third Round Qualifying - Southampton v Vitesse Arnhem - Ronald Koeman, Manager of Southampton with Peter Bosz, Manager of Vitesse - Photo: Marc Atkins / Offside.

The Saints recorded their best ever Premier League finish of seventh last term, and normally sides would look to improve on that. However, the club’s participation in the Europa League will likely affect their domestic form – if they reach the group stages – as it has with Newcastle and Everton in recent years. Ronald Koeman lost two key players in Morgan Schneiderlin and Nathaniel Clyne over the summer, but their replacements – Jordy Clasie and Cedric Soares – have already impressed. The squad has been further boosted with the additions of Juanmi and Steven Caulker among others, and the return of Jay Rodriguez from long-term injury will be like a new signing. Still looking for more additions, expect the South Coast outfit to once again be in the top-10.

Transfers in:
Juanmi (Malaga), Cedric Soares (Sporting CP), Maarten Stekelenburg (Fulham), Cuco Martina (FC Twente), Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord), Steven Caulker (Queens Park Rangers)

30 July 2015 - UEFA Europa League - Third Round Qualifying - Southampton v Vitesse Arnhem - Cedric Soares of Southampton - Photo: Marc Atkins / Offside.

Transfers out: Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool), Morgan Schneiderlin (Manchester United), Sam Gallagher (MK Dons), Jack Stephens (Middlesbrough), Artur Boruc (Bournemouth), Cody Cropper (MK Dons), Jos Hooiveld (AIK), Jordan Turnbull (Swindon Town), Dani Osvaldo (Released)

Star Player: Sadio Mane

30 July 2015 - UEFA Europa League - Third Round Qualifying - Southampton v Vitesse Arnhem - Sadio Mane of Southampton - Photo: Marc Atkins / Offside.

The Senegal international enjoyed a fruitful debut season in England with the Saints, netting an impressive 10 goals in 30 top-flight appearances for Ronald Koeman’s side, including the Premier League’s fastest ever hat-trick against Aston Villa in May. It was the pacey forward’s form when the side, and striker Graziano Pelle, dipped around the Christmas and New Year period that was especially excellent though. Most effective in the ‘number 10’ role, the 23-year-old picked up two assists in his side’s 3-0 win against Vitesse Arnhem at St Mary’s in the Europa League last week and looks set for another big year.

Shoot’s Saints blogger: Connor Armstrong

Blogger’s view: “This is going to be a pretty interesting season for Saints, although perhaps not quite as interesting as last in some ways! I see Saints holding, or hanging around in the general vicinity of their league position last season, 7th. However, I do think there is potential for a slight slide, and that will almost entirely depend on the Europa League and Ronald Koeman’s attitude to cup competitions. We have built a bigger squad and added some exciting players, but if Koeman wants to put out a strong side in the league as well as the Europa League and both domestic cups, it could quickly become quite taxing for the squad. We’ve already added six new faces, and my understanding is that two more will arrive – a central defender and a central midfielder. Obviously I harbour hopes that Saints can go one step further and guarantee themselves a pass to the Europa League group stages next time out thanks to their league position, but I’m not expecting it. I’d not be disappointed in a slight slide, so long as the club has a proper crack at the cup competitions and the Europa League. Perhaps not the boldest prediction, but I’ll call another top-half finish for Koeman’s men.”

Blogger’s key man: Sadio Mané

Shoot Says: Top-half finish

 
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