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    Southampton v Watford: First Preview of the Season!

    By Alex Easley
    Walter Mazzarri will begin his reign as Watford head coach at Southampton on Saturday.
     Both Southampton and Watford will start life under new managers when they meet in their opening fixture of the season at St Mary’s on Saturday.

    Claude Puel will begin his reign as Saints boss, after taking over from Ronald Koeman, while Walter Mazzarri replaced Quique Sanchez Flores at the Hornets.

    Both men will be looking to get off to the best possible start for 2016/17, but although the visitors have managed to keep hold of their stars in the form of Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo over the summer, Southampton have lost more of theirs yet again, as Graziano Pelle and Sadio Mane both leaving the club.
    Claude Puel says he is enjoying working with his Southampton squad.
    New Saints’ boss Puel said: "I'm enjoying sitting down and working with this squad. The qualities are there, but there is also the spirit and attitude, which is encouraging for the future of Southampton.

    "It is an exciting moment for me and it is the same for the players. It is the first game. It is always a special day."

    Watford head coach Mazzarri was quoted as saying: “The first objective is to stay in the Premier League. Those who know me know that we will work hard and prepare to see how far we can get. But this for me is a new experience and I can't wait to start.

    "Hopefully other players will also arrive to improve the team. On the transfer market I prefer if the club speaks, but there will be two or three players arriving soon."


    Southampton will be without Ryan Bertrand after the left-back suffered up a knee injury in training following his return from Euro 2016 with England.

    Jose Fonte and Cedric Soares are doubts despite rejoining training but Virgil van Dijk has recovered from a knock.

    New signings Isaac Success and Brice Dja Djedje will miss out for Watford with foot and leg injuries respectively.

    Valon Behrami and Adlene Guedioura are also doubts as they recover from recent injuries, but Craig Cathcart is expected to play despite a back issue.

    Jose Fonte is set to captain the Saints after winning the Euros with Portugal last month.


    Southampton are unbeaten in their last five meetings with Watford (W3, D2).

    Watford have failed to score in any of the four most recent league encounters and they managed just one shot on target in last season's two fixtures.


    Southampton have earned 39 points in 2016, a tally only bettered by champions Leicester (42).

    They ended last season with four successive wins and could register five Premier League victories in a row for the first time in 15 years.

    Saints have won eight and lost just one of their last 10 league games at St Mary's.

    Claude Puel is the seventh French manager in the Premier League - only half of the previous six remained in charge for more than 20 matches in the competition.

    The last Southampton manager to win his opening Premier League game in charge was Paul Sturrock in March 2004.

    The top two goalscorers for Southampton last season have both left the club this summer - Graziano Pelle and Sadio Mane scored a combined 29 goals in 2015-16.


    Watford are unbeaten in their last nine season-opening matches but have yet to win their first Premier League fixture of a season (D1, L2).

    They avoided relegation for the first time in a Premier League campaign last season, earning a club record 45 points in the competition.

    The Hornets were seventh in the table at Christmas - just one point behind the top four - but only managed 17 points and four wins from their remaining 21 matches.

    Odion Ighalo has scored just two goals in 18 Premier League appearances in 2016 so far, having managed 13 league goals in his first 19 games of last season.

    K.O. 3PM (UK) 13/08/2016 VENUE ST MARYS STADIUM
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    Item Reviewed: Southampton v Watford: First Preview of the Season! Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Alex Easley
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