At the start of the season, it was exciting to see how Ralph set up his starting XI. Valery (£4.9m) ended the 18/19 campaign in blistering form and would be good value in FPL should that continue. Additionally, Bednarek (£4.5m) was a fantastic option last season as he was the cheapest defender in the game and starting every game – the perfect bench player for the odd times your premium players are rested. Vestergaard (£5.0) currently sits forth in total points among defenders following a clean sheet, a goal and two loads of maximum bonus points already this season! One to watch for sure.
Going forward, we were confident that Redmond (£6.3) would pose the biggest threat and he did reward the patient owners with a goal in gameweek 3. Supporting Redmond, Romeu (£4.5m), Ward-Prowse (£5.9m) and Hojbjerg (£4.9m) have all accumulated the most minutes. Ward-Prowse can be lethal from set pieces but realistically, we aren’t looking at those three players for our FPL sides and all but Romeu have dropped in price.
In and around the box, Ings (£6.0m) and Adams (£5.8m) have been making themselves busy but the latter has really struggled to bring his Championship form to the Premier League and hasn’t managed a full 90 minutes in any of the opening four matches. Ings has returned slightly better: registering a goal and an assist so far but not offering the same output at strikers just slightly higher in cost.
The pricing of Saints players was interesting at the start of the season; their low cost to managers allowed us to bring them in but offload them relatively easily as we realised the value was elsewhere in the league. However, moving forward under Ralph the squad do look more exciting and organised thus when they click, the reduced-priced players could be differentials in our squads.
Southampton’s next five fixtures are: Sheffield United (A), Bournemouth (H), Spurs (A), Chelsea (H) and Wolves (A). For me, we’ve got stuck in a pattern over the last couple of seasons of underestimating the ‘lesser’ teams and being caught off guard and leaving with less than the maximum points on offer in the match, but on the other end of the scale, the players perform against the top teams but ultimately lack the top-end quality to take anything from those matches. I can see Southampton avoiding defeat in all games with Spurs being the exception. Chelsea have talent but are yet to gel as a unit and Bournemouth offer the same quality as Saints – hopefully the coin flips in our favour.
I was worried when Brighton went down to 10 men but was pleasantly surprised that Southampton went up a gear and got the job done. Danso (£4.5m) looked like a real player and a contention for managers in FPL. However, against Manchester United he got too hot headed and saw red. When back from suspension, I’ll be watching him very closely.
A few stats for you to mull over: Angus Gunn (£4.5m) has made 15 saves across the opening four matches and as a team, Southampton have only committed 1 error that lead to a goal. The wingers and full backs have swung 55 crosses into the box for the forwards to gamble on, but only 31% of them have reached either Che or Danny. Across the four matches, they’ve averaged 3 shots on target per game and have created 9 ‘big’ chances.
I am always the optimist; I can see Saints converting these chances and as the squad continue to grow under Ralph, some of the aforementioned players that have seen a price fall (or two) since the game’s launch could prove exciting options that are easy to get into our teams. Now isn’t the time to bring Saints players in but if you do have any, hold them for the next two fixtures at least – focus on other fires you may have. The fixtures look to improve around mid-November and it will be worth considering a Saints asset then.