Another week, another chat with the opposition (blogger)! This week, we talk with Jake Hughes of St. Mary’s Musings about Southampton’s summer and hopes for this season. I did the same for him, and I’ll link to his questions and my answers when they’re live. (They’re live!)
Off we go!
TSF: Did Southampton go on a shopping spree this summer? What did they come back from the shops with?
SMM: There are plenty of new faces at St. Mary's but it's hard to call it a shopping spree. It's more like replacing your hard-earned valuables, having sold them to a megastore, by attending a load of car boot sales.
Saying that, we paid a club-record fee for the promising Sofiane Boufal, Pierre-Emil Hjøbjerg looks a good acquisition from Bayern Munich and we also signed the exciting Nathan Redmond for a reasonable price.
We also "tied down" (or made them more expensive) a number of key Saints players to longer contracts - including Virgil van Dijk, Dusan Tadic, Steven Davis and Fraser Forster. Not bad.
TSF: Are fans happy with Southampton's activities over the summer, or are there still holes that need filling in the squad?
SMM: There are certainly some holes and there is a significant section of Saints fans who are not happy with the club's transfer activities over the summer. Perhaps people have finally tired of making transfer profit each year?
We are sorely lacking attacking options. Our only three strikers are Shane Long, Charlie Austin and Jay Rodriguez and the latter two players leave me worried as they're so injury prone.
TSF: After three games, Southampton are winless, but with only one loss. Is this the start fans were expecting, or is it not quite what everyone thought August would bring?
SMM: It's odd. Everyone I spoke to and read over the summer were being fairly realistic: they'd happily take a mid-table finish and a good Europa League draw (which we got) this season.
Now, after those three games, there are many fans who not happy with the club's start (You can read about it here).
TSF: There's a new manager at St. Mary's this season. Small sample size, I know, but has Claude Puel lived up to expectations so far?
SMM: He's not exactly popular at St. Mary's at the moment - even three games into the season. But, to jump on a new manager's back at this stage after yet another Saints summer of upheaval is disgraceful.
TSF: What are fans' expectations for this season?
SMM: As above, most fans were happy with the Europa League group stages and would've happily taken mid-to-lower table in favour of a good cup run in Europe all domestically. Obviously, this sentiment has soured somewhat.
TSF: What Southampton players should Arsenal be most wary of this weekend?
SMM: I would say Fraser Forster, after some of the fantastic performances he's put in against you lot. But, that would curse him! Shane Long is another who loves running at the Arsenal defence, so I'll say him. I think Per Mertesacker still has nightmares about Long.
TSF: Fill in the blank: If Arsenal want to beat Southampton, they absolutely must (blank)
SMM: Exploit the weaknesses we have on either side of defence.
TSF: Finally, a prediction for the game?
SMM: Hoping and praying for a 0-2 away win for Saints. But, realistically, I feel the best we can get is a draw. Another 0-0 between the two.