After a narrow escape last season, Mark Hughes will look to start the campaign in a far more positive way than in 2017-18 under Mauricio Pellegrino. With ‘The Southampton Way’ seemingly abandoned, FPL bosses will look to new signings such a Jannik Vestergaard and Mohamed Elynounoussi for inspiration.
STAR MAN – Charlie Austin (£6.0m)
As much as I’d love this to be Manolo Gabbiadini and despite his priceless winner at Swansea that guaranteed survival, Austin seems set to start the season as the club’s guaranteed starting-striker. With 7 goals (all inside the box) in last season’s testing campaign, the centre-forward managed to find the net every 148 minutes in a season once again hampered by injury, which is obviously one of the key doubts with the player. The club’s first five fixtures could hold promise, with Burnley, Leicester and Brighton all visiting St Marys in that run and if Austin can start the season well and get anywhere near replicating his best top flight season (18 goals in 35 appearances), then he could be a great third striker option.
HIDDEN GEM – Mohamed Elynounoussi (£6.5m)
I really struggled here if I’m honest. I’d be far more hopeful if I knew the likes of Josh Sims (£4.5m) or Jake Hesketh (unlisted) were at least being considered for a starting berth, but alas it seems the pathway from youth to first XI is far tougher in 2018. My attention then, certainly from an FPL perspective, turns to new recruit Mohamed Elynounoussi. The £16m midfielder, signed from Basel, looks set to take on the responsibility of provider-in-chief from the recently departed Dušan Tadić. £6.5m in FPL might look steep for a Saints midfielder (particularly when you put the likes of Jota & Richarlison in that bracket), but if Hughes looks to build around the Norwegian like he did with Shaqiri at Stoke, he could provide useful returns.
BARGAIN – Cédric Soares (£4.5m)
Already selected in 15.7% of FPL sides at the time of writing, Cédric stands out as a guaranteed way into a back line with decent fixtures, at a cut-price of £4.5m.
With Hughes currently looking likely to start GW1 with a 3-4-2-1, it should in theory mean potential clean sheets, certainly within that opening period.
PREDICTED LINE UP
Stephens – Vestergaard – Hoedt
Cédric – Lemina – Romeu – Bertrand
Redmond – Elyounoussi
Note – Keep an eye on the friendlies as places still up for grabs.
Written by FPLSwot (@FPLSWOT)