So, after a short 3 month break, Premier League football returns to St. Mary’s as Swansea City come to town.
And who will Mauricio Pellegrino choose to start in his first competitive game for the club? Well, after a pre-season that has seen experimentation of many combinations, many players have impressed:
Here’s who I think deserves the nod:
Fraser Forster – He may not wear number 1 anymore, but he’s better than Stuart Taylor. And despite one good game early pre-season, Alex McCarthy has hardly made a claim for the starting spot.
Cedric – Jeremy Pied could easily play on Saturday due to having longer in pre-season, but MP surprised me when he played Cedric against Sevilla last weekend. He put in a good shift and looks fresh. Therefore I think Cedric may well be ready to start against Swansea.
Jack Stephens – Came out of nowhere last season and deserves his place. Has shown glimpses of real quality in pre-season and got his first goal last weekend too. The Virgil Van Dijk saga has also aided his cause.
Maya Yoshida – Much the same as far as Maya is concerned. Came on leaps and bounds last year and the partnership he has with Stephens is only growing stronger. I’d expect this to be the partnership for much of the season.
Ryan Bertrand – Arguably our most consistent and best player. Highly likely to start. Though some impressive displays from Matt Targett could give him a run for his money. Watch this space in weeks to come.
Oriol Romeu – Last years stand out man and probably the first name on the team sheet these days. No doubt about it. Just don’t mistake him for Hojbjerg – he has hair now.
Steven Davis – Mr. Reliable. And yet I was tempted to say that his place could have been taken by Hojbjerg or Lemina (though it’s probably a little too early for him). But as club captain (and Virgil being a no-show), I think he’ll get the nod. Wouldn’t be surprised if he gets subbed in the second half for fresh legs though.
James Ward-Prowse – The three behind the striker is so interchangeable now that really anyone could get in here. But I’ll give the right hand side to Prowsey. Had a good season last year and I hope he pushes on for a great one. I would love to see him with the captains armband but still can’t guarantee him a starting place. His time will come.
Dusan Tadic – Personally I’d like to see Boufal in the middle, but it’ll probably be Tadic. I’ve got nothing against him, but if Boufal was less isolated then I think it would do him wonders. Although its worth saying the the three are very fluid, so we’ll see them swap areas throughout the game.
Sofiane Boufal – Could be Redmond, but can see him being an impact sub. Boufal seems eager to go, and I strongly believe that we’ll see the real Boufal this year, starting with Saturday.
Manolo Gabbiadini – The competition between Gabbiadini and Austin should be great this year, with Longy being the impact sub for much of the season. But with Gabbi’s goal against Sevilla, I think he may have swung the pendulum in his favour.
Fabianski, Naughton, Mawson, Fernandez, Olsson, Carroll, Mosa, Fer, Routledge, Narsingh, Ayew
Injury news: Llorente (injured), Sigurdsson (ruled out by Paul Clement)