Premier League season preview: Southampton

Mauricio Pochettino is now in his first full season in charge at St Mary's. Photo: PA

Last season: 14th

Much like Norwich, Southampton have confounded sceptics with free flowing football that is easy on the eye and achieves results.

They consolidated their Premier League status with a hard-fought season last time out that put other more established top-flight sides to shame, incoming boss Mauricio Pochettino combining continental flair with a steely side not normally associated with the Saints.

The south coast side are not resting on their laurels either, they want to push up into the top half of the table and their summer transfer dealings thus far have hit the spot for the St Mary's supporters.

They managed to lure Celtic's star midfielder Victor Wanyama away from higher profile teams, while adding classy Croatian defender Dejan Lovren from Lyon.

Lovren, who is a real coup for Pochettino, will likely partner Japanese centre-back Maya Yoshida at the back leaving silky full-backs Nathaniel Clyne and Luke Shaw to round out the defence.

Whether Pochettino opts for Kelvin Davis or Artur Boruc depends on who shines in the pre-season friendlies with very little between the two custodians.

French enforcer Morgan Schneiderlin won plaudits last season for his box-to-box displays in the middle leaving former Serie A star Gaston Ramirez to weave his magic alongside him.

How Pochettino incorporates Wanyama into the mix, without sacrificing penetrating wingers Adam Lallana and Jason Puncheon, will be crucial to the chemistry.

Up front, English workhorse Rickie Lambert will be looking to improve upon his respectable 15-goal Premier League tally from last season whether it be on his own or partnering talented Jay Rodriguez.

Whatever formation the ambitious Argentine selects, the Saints will be a force home and away in a season charged with promise.

Ins: Dejan Lovren (Lyon, undisc), Victor Wanyama (Celtic, £12m)

Outs: Frazer Richardson, Danny Butterfield, Dan Seabourne, Ryan Dickson, Ben Reeves, Sam Hoskins, Tommy Forecast, Alberto Seidi (All released), Richard Chaplow (Millwall, undisc)

Gaston Ramirez will be looking to make some improvements. Credit: WhoScored

Player to watch: Luke Shaw

Not many young footballers would stay loyal to the club that gave them their big break in this day and age. The fact Shaw spurned the likes of Spurs and United should allow him to build on the huge promise he showed in attack and defence on the left flank.

Something to prove: Maya Yoshida You sense the Japanese international could strike up a profitable partnership with cool customer Lovren, if his distribution and concentration improves greatly from last season. Their union will be key to determining where the Saints finish this season.

Predicted finish: 10th

Title odds: 1000/1

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@itvfootball Morgan Schneiderlin again I reckon. Who knows what we'll see from Ramirez!