The term “season of two halves” is seldom more applicable than it was in Southampton’s 18/19 campaign. Under Ralph Hasenhuttl, Southampton found a rhythm; one that didn’t go unnoticed by FPL managers.
The likes of Danny Ings, Shane Long and Nathan Redmond all found their way into squads last season, as did a few of their more dependable defenders. So why aren’t we giving them more attention as we approach Gameweek 1? This Southampton FPL team guide for the 2019/20 season should provide us with the answer.
What style of football do Southampton play?
The appointment of Ralph Hasenhuttl last season was one of intent from Southampton. A team that at one point was the gold standard for recruitment, quality of football and youth development within the midtable clique of Premier League teams, Southampton had found themselves moving away from that identity. They also found themselves in the midst of relegation limbo.
If the former RB Leipzig manager does nothing else at Southampton, he will at least be remembered for keeping them up for another Premier League season.
This upcoming season will see Hasenhuttl look towards establishing The Saints as a top-half team once again. Settling on a 5-3-2 setup after a period of experimentation, the improvement in Southampton’s pressing has been noticeable. The trademark German style of football looks to have well and truly arrived at St Mary’s.
With a higher and more proactive defensive line, the team is able to launch quicker counter attacks with runs into space to receive the ball between the lines. This has benefitted Danny Ings and Nathan Redmond in particular, with the latter finding enough form under his new manager to earn a recall back into the England national team this year.
The midfield trio of James-Ward Prowse, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Oriol Romeu have been able to provide the team with well-timed pressing triggers and coordination in the build-up play in order to create such chances.
The usage of wingbacks has also been a big part of Southampton’s play under Hasenhuttl. The experienced Ryan Bertrand and the young Yan Valery managed to provide width along with well-timed movements into attacking areas. They also have the recovery speed to drop into defence to form a back 5 when the ball is lost.
With quality crossers in their wingbacks and Ward-Prowse, Southampton could look to improve their aerial threat in attacking plays. The Saints scored the joint least amount of headed goals (4) last season.
Southampton have been able to add another striker in Che Adams, who netted 22 goals for Birmingham City last season in the Championship. Improvement on the flanks has also been added in the form of Moussa Djenepo from Standard Liege.
Last season’s key statistics
Despite securing more clean sheets (4) in the 15 Gameweeks under Mark Hughes, than the 23 matches following Ralph Hassenhuttl’s appointment, Southampton’s goals conceded per game actually dropped from 1.93 to 1.57 since the Austrian arrived.
Their goal conversion has more than doubled from 5.7% to 12.5%. The improvements on the pitch are clear to see, but they’ve struggled to translate this into FPL points, which is why Southampton players are difficult to invest in at this stage. A team on the up and we expect a further boost with their new signings.
FPL fixture difficulty
The table above shows the fixture difficulty of Southampton’s opening six matches, as determined by our clean sheet tracker and attacking tracker. These difficulty trackers are based on last seasons home/away specific performance statistics. Newly promoted sides statistics have been weighted according to their transitional value.
Who takes penalties for Southampton?
Accordingly to our data, Danny Ings is designated penalty taker for Southampton. James Ward-Prowse is the second choice.
Which Southampton players to pick on FPL?
Southampton assets suffer from the burden of price bracket comparison. Where Nathan Redmond looks like great value at £6.5m, the immediate question becomes “but is he better than Ayoze Perez?”.
Such has been the case for most of their most promising FPL prospects. There are a few, however, that have caught the manager’s imagination.
Shane Long (£5.0m) is one such prospect; owned by more managers than any of his colleagues. The Irishman actually found himself in a few teams at the end of last season, owing to some decent underlying stats and a string of starts. With the arrival of Che Adams (£5.5m) and with Danny Ings (£5.5m) returning to full fitness, he’ll have to compete even harder for a starting berth. Then again, £5.0m is one of the few generous starting prices on offer this season.
Remarkably, Angus Gunn (£4.5m) is actually owned by less managers than Fraser Forster (£4.5m). That’s surprising, given that it seemed Angus Gunn had more than cemented his place in the side by the time the season concluded. The young shot-stopper shows plenty of promise between the sticks, though save points may be a more dependable source of returns than clean sheet points.
James Ward-Prowse at £6.0m is an intriguing pick. With the absence of decent sub-£6.5m midfielders, Ward-Prowse might be a needle in the haystack. Somewhat surprisingly, given his set-piece abilities, the creative Englishman registered zero assists in the 2018/19 season. 7 goals go some way to making up for that, but JWP’s well-documented ability to finish from long-range doesn’t bode well for his underlying stats. Are those kind of goals sustainable for another season?
Sofiane Boufal (£5.5m) is currently 0.0% owned, but has put in some impressive preseason performances. Danny Ings is also back in the goals, with 3 to his name in a productive set of friendlies. Notably, 1 of those was a penalty.