Every team wants to hit the ground running when a new Premier League season launches. Of course things will be no different at St. Mary’s on Saturday when Southampton host Watford, and the two clubs had some parallel fortunes in recent months.
Both are hoping to build on what was a successful campaign last season. Southampton finished sixth – their highest league finish since 1985, when they finished fifth in the top flight. Watford too enjoyed arguably unexpected success with their 13th placed resting point, which was the highest in their history. Both also saw a change of personnel in their dugouts. The visitors replaced Quique Sanchez Flores with Walter Mazzarri, while Saints lost Ronald Koeman to Everton and have brought in Claude Puel.
Seeing which way this one could go is tricky, because there are arguments for both sides to win. Each manager’s tactical approach could prove the key to the points. Southampton lost the services of a couple of star players over the course of the summer, with Victor Wanyama marching to Tottenham while Sadio Mane left for Liverpool. They are favourites with their best odds found at 9/11. Recruitment has been primarily defensive, with Alex McCarthy joining from Crystal Palace and Jeremy Pied from Nice. Committing Shane Long to a new deal will be a big boost for the club in the attacking department.
Watford can be backed with odds of around 4/1, though the draw looks a more tempting bet at 11/4 with bet365. Both sides will be keen to avoid an early defeat and lay down a foundation to build on moving forward. They also both have some steel at the back. The biggest problem for Saints could be the attacking prowess of Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo for Watford, though Jose Fonte looks set to stay amid rumours of a move. Keeping Deeney and Ighalo quiet will almost certainly be a priority for Southampton.
Bet Of The Match
In this fixture last season, Southampton won 2-0. Under 1.5 goals is a tempting offer at 9/4 with SkyBet, though the slightly less adventurous punter could go for under 2.5 goals at 8/11 with Ladbrokes. Definitely a good place to start, despite the relatively small returns.