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PREMIER LEAGUE REVIEW: Southampton vs. Watford (GW1, 13/08/2016)

The Premier League season is back, and amongst the excitement of a worldwide global audience, the first weekend provided shock results that continue to prove that England’s top football division is an unpredictable as ever. The Hype Train were present at St Mary’s Stadium for Southampton’s home clash against Watford. New managers, new players, and new expectations, led to an intriguing and potentially eye opening day on the south coast. We look at who stood out, who to avoid, and the players worth noticing in the Fantasy Premier League. All aboard.

The Hype Train on Tour: Southampton

Our team was recently in London at Wembley Stadium for Liverpool’s 4-0 decimation of Barcelona in the club’s final pre-season match before the 2016/17 kick off. The day was perfect with sunny skies on a warm day and it really was a precursor of what was to come as Liverpool completely brutalised Arsenal with an array of attacking talent in the second half at the Emirates.

A week on and all 3 Englishman on The Hype Team were present for Southampton’s opening day clash with Watford. It was the first Premier League match of @TheHypeTrainSam. Just like the week prior, it was hot and mostly sunny, albeit some cloudy parts. The atmosphere in the city was vibrant and optimistic, with many Southampton fans quietly confident ahead of the new season.

St Mary’s actually came as a surprise to the team. It is a fair distance from the train station, a 20-25 minute walk, with the stadium surrounded by industrial gas works. From what we have seen on TV, the inside of St Mary’s is very nice, but the outside of the stadium is barren (no hotels surrounding it like Carrow Road or Madjeski Stadium), and is directly next to train tracks and fences surrounded by shrubbery and trees, with rusted steel surrounding the entire exterior of the stadium. The most impressive feature is the jagged framing atop the stadium roof, clawing itself around the stadium.

The atmosphere inside the ground grew, but when Watford scored it took a while to get down-trodden Saints fans to believe in the season ahead. With the second half building, and with Southampton on the front foot, the crowd came alive to leave us with a really good impression of the stadium and the fans.

Redmond’s goal from an FPL point of view was pure joy, with the three of the Hype Team all with Redmond in their Fantasy squads.

Match Report: Southampton 1-1 Watford

With Walter Mazzarri (Watford) and Claude Puel (Southampton) making their debuts as managers Southampton clawed back at a dogged and determined Watford with a volley from Nathan Redmond to claim a point on the opening Premier League of the 2016/17 season.

A game of two halves, Watford controlled the flow of the first half, scoring early through Etienne Capoue’s fierce follow up from a Troy Deeney knock down, then dominating the possession and scuppering all advances from playmakers Dusan Tadic and Shane Long. With Brazilian keeper Gomes slowing down play with numerous time-wasting moments, Watford went into the break as comfortable winners, but the home side rallied in the second half, and through new arrival Nathan Redmond, and the threat of Shane Long, Watford eventually succumb to pressure from an ever expecting home fan base.

Redmond’s goal, a volley from a corner that Gomes punched out of the reach of Virgil van Dijk, fell perfectly for the summer signing from Norwich to slot in. Redmond, on the eyes of FPL players due to playing out of position as a striker, scored again in the second half and nearly won it for Southampton, but was ruled offside. We’ll never know if it was offside, Match of the Day didn’t show the clip on the programme!

Southampton, who for long parts of the game, found themselves and their fans frustrated by a deep-lying Watford defence. Favouring the right side of the field, Euro 2016 hero Credic Soares consistently struggled for form, but new arrival Jeremy Pied had more luck unlocking Holebas on the right side. Southampton grew into the game, with Hojbjerb’s introduction a driving force for the side. Fresh enthusiasm worked in Southampton’s favour on this occasion, but in a long season with Europa League commitments, it’s a potentially head scratching time for Pied as he (and FPL players alike) juggles the demands of European football.

Shane Long’s best moment, a bursting run past Ben Watson, and eventual takedown from the Watford substitute (resulting in a red card), essentially condemned the fixture to a score draw. Watford sat deeper and deeper, denying Southampton continued momentum in the match.

Both sides will feel fortunate that they left with anything at all. Watford were a beaten team in the second half, whilst Southampton will feel fortunate that Redmond saved the day, because aside from a few attacking outlets, the Saints struggled to be clinical in front of goal.

How did Southampton line up?

Formation: 4-1-2-1-2 (narrow diamond)

GK: Forster

RB: Soares (Pied, 79)

CB: Yoshida

CB: van Dijk (booked, 90)

LB: Targett

CDM: Romeu

CM: Davis

CM: Ward-Prowse (Højbjerg, 55)

CAM: Tadic

ST: Redmond

ST: Long (Austin, 83)

How did Watford line up?

Formation: 3-5-2

GK: Gomes (booked, 87)

CB: Cathcart

CB: Prödl

CB: Britos

RWB: Amrabat

CM: Guédioura (booked, 60), (Zuñiga, 73)

CM: Behrami (Watson, 64 – sent off, 76)

CM/CAM: Capoue

LWB: Holebas

ST: Deeney

ST: Ighalo (Anya, 81)

Who were the top performers?

Nathan Redmond arguably the Man of the Match as he dictated the pace and flair of the second half, and proved the game changing player. Dusan Tadic was the star-man though, dictating the game, and provided trickery and technical skill that made Watford’s central midfielders double up on the Serbian international. All that was missing was a goal Shane Long didn’t come into the game until the latter stages and was replaced by Austin to give Southampton an aerial threat. Jeremy Pied’s introduction changed the game. The right-back was more dangerous than Cedric and everything went through Pied in the closing moments. Another substitute, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, also energised Southampton’s midfield and made them more of a driving force. Showed a lot of pace and was direct. Virgil van Dijk was a rock at the back, with Ighalo and Deeney getting nothing past the Dutch defender.

On the Watford side of things, Troy Deeney was a powerhouse up top and had a tidy game, despite not having a sniff at goal, but dominated in the air for Watford’s goal. Gomes in goal made some crucial saves, but made the wrong kind of attention with a lot of time wasting, that eventually led to a yellow card.

Who should FPL players look out for?

With the FPL one week old, and players now looking forward to Gameweek 2, are there any players from this bunch worth the punt in the FPL? We think there’s a few gems to be unearthed after this opening round of fixtures.

Nathan Redmond (Southampton)

Player Price: £6.0m (predicted to rise)

% Ownership: 8.7%

We touted Redmond as one of our Core Captains for Gameweek 1, and we weren’t let down when the winger turned forward riffled in a volley. Match of the Day also didn’t show that Redmond had a goal ruled out for offside. If the Saints are to score, Redmond will be in the mix for fantasy points. His inclusion for us here at The Hype Train is necessary as he’ll rotate well with a fifth midfielder, and at £6.0m you’re essentially backing a value forward.

Virgil van Dijk (Southampton)

Player Price: £5.5m

% Ownership: 13.7%

The Southampton back four didn’t really have a lot to do against Watford. We fancy Virgil to back up his price-tag with favourable home fixtures on the horizon. After Man United away, Virgil faces Sunderland, Burnley, and Swansea at home, in between away fixtures to Arsenal, West Ham, and Leicester. It’s probably best to consider rotation with a squad like West Ham, who are looking to cement their new London Stadium as a fortress.

Dusan Tadic (Southampton)

Player Price: £7.5m

% Ownership: 5.5%

Set-piece king at Southampton, Tadic looked sharp from free-kicks, twice testing Gomes in the Watford goal. Tadic was vital at link-up play with the two strikers, and though FPL points never came through, the assists will start rolling in given a bit of time. Tadic loves playing away at Manchester United, registering a goal and an assist in his last 2 visits. Might be worth taking a gamble against a United back four that hasn’t settled.

Troy Deeney (Watford)

Player Price: £7.0m

% Ownership: 4.9%

Watford face a potentially daunting prospect on the horizon with Chelsea (h), Arsenal (h), West Ham (a), and Man United (h) in the next four before a more desirable run of form. Deeney is Watford’s penalty taker and might find some luck in these big games. Watford are still listed as a ‘Wildcard’ team and this might prove to be the case when the big boys make the trip to Vicarage Road. Strong in the air, won’t be rotated, and is incredibly underrated. Only finished 18 points behind Aguero last season and performed near enough each week, even when Watford struggled.

Etienne Capoue (Watford)

Player Price: £4.5m

% Ownership: 4.0%

Playing in an advanced role, creeping in behind Ighalo and Deeney, Capoue was a genuine threat going forward against Southampton. His goal, a powerful stab at the ball from a Deeney knock down could be a staple of Watford’s attacking play. Watford’s attack relies on a mix of power and pace, with the French international complimenting both Deeney and Ighalo. At £4.5m million he is a steal, but there are concerns over his fixtures, facing the big boys home and away for a month, and we’d recommend making the transfer down the line.

Another drawback to Capoue’s potential is that when Watford alternated their team with substitutions, he dropped into a CDM role, meaning his midfield flexibility will be utilised throughout the season.

GW2 Preview: Man United vs. Southampton

Friday’s nights are now a thing of the Premier League fixture list, with the first seeing Southampton travel to a Man United side, relatively untroubled in their own visit to Bournemouth. Southampton should offer a sterner test for Mourinho’s side, even if the likes of Zlatan and Pogba will be on show the first time at time. In fact, it’s not been easy street for United at home to Southampton, ever since the south coast side were promoted from the Championship in 2013. See below the record at Old Trafford for the last 3 seasons.

2013/14: Man United 1-1 Southampton (van Persie, Lallana)

2014/15: Man United 0-1 Southampton (Tadic)

2015/16: Man United 0-1 Southampton (Austin)

FPL players are hoping that Man United shut the door on Southampton, with David de Gea the second most selected player in the game, with Luke Shaw and Antonio Valencia also popular options. Zlatan will look to score on his first appearance at Old Trafford, but will have to contend with the duo of Virgil van Dijk and a returning Jose Fonte, who has been touted by fellow countryman Mourinho to join Man United by the close of the transfer market.

From a Southampton point of view, there is no better time or place to upset United. Pied has the luxury of rotating his squad, hopefully to the squad that ended the Watford game, with Pied and Hojbjerg, starting. Long and Redmond will resume their place up front, but Charlie Austin will look to upset the balance and bully his way again.

What we’re expecting is another low scoring affair between the two. Southampton will defend well and break in numbers. Defenders may prove the most viable FPL options for the week, as it won’t be all rosy and easy for Mourinho (like what many think).

The FPL deadline for Gameweek 2 is 19:00pm, Friday 19th August 2016.

Want to know more about The Hype Train?

The Hype Train is an entertainment website founded in 2015 specialising in the Fantasy Premier League (#FPL), providing beautiful graphics and weekly insight for hopeful players attempting to climb ranking tables. We are also occasional media reviewers, with a keen interest to review movies, television, live music, festivals, and any relevant topic in the public eye.

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All aboard.


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