Match Preview: Southampton vs Watford
(Picture - Zimbio)
So here it is; the day we've all been waiting for. Today marks the start of the 2016/17 Premier League season, a day that many supporters have been looking forward to ever since the fixtures were released two months ago.
The first day of the season always brings a mixture of emotions. Hope, fear, expectation to name but a few.
I'm sure many Watford fans will be going through a series of emotions today, as 3000 Hornets head to the St Mary's Stadium as Walter Mazzarri's men face Southampton in the Premier League.
The Hornets will be hoping to put in a much better performance this time around on the South Coast. Watford's last visit to the St Mary's Stadium in January resulted in a 2-0 defeat, with Shane Long and Dusan Tadic scoring the Saints' goals. In truth, the Hornets were lucky not to concede more and they will be hoping to put things right on their return to the South Coast.
Like Watford, it has been another summer of change at Southampton. Ronald Koeman and the likes of Graziano Pelle, Sadio Mane and Victor Wanyama have all left the club over the summer, which will have surely come as a disappointment to Saints fans.
Claude Puel is the new man at the helm at the St Mary's Stadium, with the Frenchman arriving in the summer on a three-year-deal. This is the 54-year-old's first job in England, having spent his entire managerial career in his native France with the likes of Nice, Lyon, Lille and Monaco.
Puel will surely be hoping to build on Koeman's success at the St Mary's Stadium and steer Southampton to another top half finish in the Premier League.
The Frenchman has inherited a good squad down at the St Mary's Stadium and the Saints' key man today will be Shane Long.
The Irish forward works tirelessly up front and has proven to be a real menace for defences on his day. Long scored 13 goals in 34 appearances in all competitions last season, one of which coming against Watford in January, where the Irish striker caused the Hornets' defence all sorts of problems.
The 29-year-old also has a quick turn of pace and with the likes of Nathan Redmond, Dusan Tadic and Steven Davis among Southampton's ranks, Long is bound to score goals and cause defences all sorts of problems once again this season.
It's now time for the talking to stop. It's time for matters on the pitch to do the talking. Southampton will prove to be a stern test for the Golden Boys and they are certainly good enough to finish in the top half of the table.
The St Mary's Stadium is a tough place to go, so Watford will certainly have to be at the top of the game if they want to return to Hertfordshire with a point or three.
Let's get behind Walter Mazzarri and the Golden Boys and look forward to another entertaining Premier League season.
Come on you 'Orns!
For Southampton, Ryan Bertrand is ruled out through injury while Jose Fonte and Cedric are doubts. Virgil Van Dijk is fit enough to feature.
For Watford, new signings Isaac Success and Brice Dja Djejde are unavailable due to injury. Valon Behrami and Adlene Guedioura are doubts. Craig Cathcart should be fit enough to play.
Southampton - Forster (GK), Pied, Fonte ©, Van Dijk, Targett, Hojbjerg, Romeu, Davis, Tadic, Redmond, Long.
Watford - Gomes (GK), Kabasele, Britos, Cathcart, Anya, Watson, Doucoure, Capoue, Holebas, Deeney ©, Ighalo.
Referee - Roger East