Yesterday our 8th preview of the 2022/23 FPL season covered Newcastle and Nottingham ForestIn this 9th FPL instalment, it’s time for Southampton and Antonio Conte’s Tottenham Hotspur.

SOUTHAMPTON – FPL 2022/23 team preview

Apart from an 11th place at the end of the 2019-20 Premier League campaign, Southampton have finished between 15th and 17th place in the league with less than 45 points in the last five seasons. Last season, the Saints ended the season in 15th place, taking 40 points from 38 games, scoring 43 goals in the process and conceding 67. Stats-wise, rather mediocre, though the defensive numbers do give some reason for worries, as only Norwich, Watford and Leeds conceded more. This shaky defensive performance is also a major reason why Soton have seemed incapable of holding on to leads last season. Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men dropped an incredible 29 points from winning positions, more than any other team in the league.

That also leads us to the mystery that is the Austrian manager’s side at times. When watching the Saints play, more often than not they deliver decent performances that are entertaining to watch, and not just because of the occasional drubbing they receive. Hasenhuttl is an excellent manager who likes his team to play forward, though at times, he seems to overlook the limitations of the squad at his disposal. Last season, for example, Southampton ranked eighth in the entire league for both total number of shots taken and for shots on target. At the same time, they ranked 18th and 19th, respectively, for goals scored from shots overall and from shots on target. With the acquisition of the club by Serbian businessman Dragan Solak, owner of Sports Republic, in January of this year, the hope among the Saints faithful is that money will be invested this summer to give their manager a squad that can flourish better under his attacking principles.

The club has been pretty active on the transfer market so far, spending about £50 million on six recruits. The names of Manchester City U23 goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu (£12.6 million), his teammate at City, Roméo Lavia (defensive midfielder, £11 million) and Girondins Bordeaux striker, Sekou Mara (£11.7 million), catch the eye. Out of all of the incoming names, only Rangers midfielder Joe Aribo is older than 20 years old, so it remains to be seen to what extent these acquisitions are immediate reinforcements for the upcoming season. As far as last season’s squad is concerned, the Saints have managed to keep their key assets for now. From the players that played something of a role last season, goalkeeper Fraser Forster joined Spurs and forward Shane Long went to Reading, both on a free, unfortunately.

Southampton’s tactics sheet

One thing Ralph Hasenhuttle is known for at Saint Mary’s and has been known for at his previous clubs, including RB Leipzig, is his tactical awareness and flexibility. Gegenpressing, in particular, which is the style mostly attributed to Liverpool Jurgen Klopp, forms a pillar of his tactical approach to games. This can be seen at times at Soton as well, when the team chase the ball like madmen immediately after losing it, seemingly wherever on the pitch. Though exciting to watch, this may have contributed to the side’s vulnerability at the back. After all, and with all due respect, Southampton do not have a Fabinho or a Virgil van Dijk (anymore) to remedy risky situations when the high press is circumvented by the opponent.

Thoughout the 2021-22 campaign, the Saints mainly started in a 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 formation, as these offer more tactical flexibility during games. The three-at-the-back approach, specifically, seems to be fitting for the team, as it offers them a bit more security when they hunt for the ball higher up the pitch. This also allows for more attacking options, as the wing-backs get more opportunities to join in the attack. Having said that, with a few quality injections into the squad and in the attack in particular, Hasenhuttl’s wish for quick, direct, high-tempo football could be a dream for FPL managers.

SOUTHAMPTON – Potential FPL targets

As something of a personal favourite of ours, James Ward-Prowse (£6.5m) was always going to be the first FPL pick from the Southampton roster on our list. Extremely underestimated by the majority of fantasy managers, the set-piece expert par excellence recorded a frankly impressive 159 FPL points last season, courtesy of 10 goals, 5 assists and 7 clean sheets. He was, by far, the best-performing midfielder in his price bracket and among midfielders priced at £11.0m or lower in the official game, only five players did better than him and each of those five players ended up in the top-half of the table with their respective teams. JWP is nailed-on under Ralph Hasenhuttl and it’s only a question of time before he makes the Premier League free-kick record his own. At the moment, only the legendary David Beckham has scored more than him (14 goals vs 18). The only thing holding us back from including the England international in our gameweek 1 squad is the fact that his opening fixtures for the upcoming season are very unappealing. From GW6 onwards though, he’s top of our watchlists.

Our second fantasy pick from the Southampton roster is JWP’s fixed partner in the middle, Stuart Armstrong (£5.0m). The Scottish international, who either plays in a more advanced role in the centre of the pitch or on the right side, has seen his price tag drop to a mere £5.0m this season. That is in large part due to his injury troubles last season, which led to him accumulating just 1,465 minutes of Premier League action in which he returned 2 goals and 1 assist. In that light, the 2020-21 season is perhaps more representative of his qualities as a fantasy asset. That season, Armstrong scored 4 goals and provided 7 assists on top of 8 clean sheets for a total of 115 FPL points. Those numbers are nothing crazy for him and if he can reach similar heights this season, his price of £5.0m will be a real bargain.

For our third Saints fantasy pick, we were trying to chose between wing-back Yann Valery, mainly because of his £4.0m price tag, and Che Adams (£6.5m) and we’ve ended up going with the latter. The 26-year-old forward had a decent 2021-22 campaign, scoring 7 goals and assisting another 4, which represents a direct involvement of just over 25% in all of his side’s goals. While we feel his current price tag is a bit too high for many managers to really consider him as part of their 15-man squad, Adams does seem to be nailed-on for the coming season. The Saints roster does not boast a lot of out-and-out strikers, and despite playing just 2,034 minutes last season as a result of Hasenhuttl’s rotation up front, the forward did record the best Expected Goals ratio out of all Southampton players (0.41 per 90 minutes).

SPURS – FPL 2022-23 team preview

Tottenham’s 2021-22 Premier League campaign was marked by the arrival of Italian manager Antonio Conte. Prior to the former Juventus and Chelsea boss’ arrival at Spurs, under the supervision of the newly appointed Nuno Espirito Santo, Spurs took 15 points from the season’s first ten games and boasted 0.9 goals per game as well as 1.6 goals against per game. Another disappointing season without silverware and possibly even without a top-six finish was looming, but chairman Daniel Levy wasn’t having it. In November, he replaced Espirito Santo with Conte and while the move raised some eyebrows here and there, the end-of-season numbers show that the big man was right. Under the Italian, Spurs won 17 of the remaining 28 games of the season, scoring an average of 2.1 goals per game and conceding just 0.9 per game.

What helped was the fact that Levy also gave the OK for some serious transfer spending in the January window. Using Conte’s connections in Italy and at Juventus in particular, the Londoners brought in central midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur for £17 million, together with right winger Dejan Kulusevski for a 2-year loan fee of £9 million with a buy option. While the former recorded a decent 4 assists from 1,360 Premier League minutes, it was the latter who has a truly impressive impact on the side. In just 1,259 minutes, he managed 5 goals and 9 assists for a total of 99 FPL points. Considering he started with a price of £6.0m, he provided excellent value for the FPL managers who owned him.

The Juventus recruits turned out to be just the beginning of a considerable squad overhaul at Spurs. The club has already spent over £90 million during the current transfer window with the majority of that amount used to bring Everton star Richarlison to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadion. A whopping £52 million was enough to convince the Toffees to let go of their man main. On top of that, the North London side also splashed the cash for Brighton’s ball-getter Yves Bissouma (£26 million) and the talented Middlesbrough right-back Djed Spence (£13 million). Barcelona central defender Clement Lenglet and Inter midfielder/winger/wing-back Ivan Perisic joined Conte’s squad for free. As far as the outgoing players go, the talented but underused Steven Bergwijn was sold to Ajax Amsterdam for a big £28 million and fringe player Cameron Carter-Vickers moved to Celtic for around £6 million.

Spurs’ tactics sheet

Looking at the current squad and the big-money, big-name additions this summer, Spurs finally start looking like a side that might be able to compete for the Premier League title. Big words, of course, but the current Spurs squad is possibly the most talented of the past years and perhaps more importantly, one that is being shaped to exactly fit Antonio Conte’s favourite playing style. The Italian manager is practically synonymous with back-three formations in which the wing-backs play key roles, both offensively and defensively. From day one, he had Spurs playing in his preferred 3-4-2-1 formation and the big advantage was that the available squad fit this approach very well. The new acquisitions are clearly brought in to further perfect Conte’s system at Spurs.

There is no doubt that Tottenham will turn up with three central defenders this season, with wing-backs essentially playing as playmakers. The question is not whether or not the Spurs wing-backs will be good FPL assets, but which ones will be preferred by Conte. The Italian is not known for rotating much, instead asking a lot of a fixed core of extremely fit players. The 33-year-old Perisic is a perfect example of the trademark Conte wing-back. The double pivot in the middle of the pitch is crucial for the team’s balance and not expected to join much in attack. In turn, the front three will be tasked mainly with pressing up the field and making sure that they are where they need to be when centres are being whipped in from the sides or over the top. At the same time, when the opponent pulls more towards the flanks to stop Spurs’ attacking moves, the team will not hesitate to build up through the middle, including Chris Wilder-style overlapping centre-backs.

SPURS – Potential FPL targets

You probably already know who the first two names in our list of Spurs fantasy picks for the 2022-23 Premier League campaign will be. Harry Kane (£11.5m) and Heung-Min Son have become not only some of the best individual picks in the official game, but also one of the best offensive duos in the English topflight, and perhaps the world. We’re starting with Kane, who for the first time ever has been priced lower than Son and looks like one of the stand-out premium picks in the build-up to gameweek 1. He had a slow start to the 2021-22 season under Espirito Santo, partly due to his missed transfer to Man City, but still ended with 17 goals and 11 assists, the elusive double-double. His 192 FPL points made him the highest-scoring forward in the official game, 17 points clear of number two Diogo Jota and 33 clear of Cristiano Ronaldo. We don’t have to tell you how nailed-on Spurs’ Very Own is, and with Southampton (home), Chelsea (away), Wolves (home) and Nottingham Forest (away) in the first four gameweeks, Kane could be off to a flying start this season for once.

We could largely copy-paste the above and just replace “Kane” with Son (£12.0m). Like Kane, Heung-Min Son is in indisputable for Spurs and Conte. The South Korean ended last season with an incredible 23 goals, putting him on par with joint-Golden Boot Mo Salah, and 10 assists, plus another 18 clean sheets. It was the same Egyptian who took home the honourable title of highest-scoring player of the 2021-22 Premier League season with 265 FPL points, but Son was just 7 points behind him. Looking at the Korean’s achievements from that angle makes us think that he was actually slightly underhyped last season, especially in comparison to Salah. In any case, you can expect him to be one of the most-selected players ahead of GW1 and very possibly, one of the top performers in the opening gameweeks.

Richarlison at £8.5m is very tempting, but it remains to be seen how he will fit in exactly at Conte’s Tottenham. The Brazilian will also miss GW1 due to suspension, so we’ve gone with Ivan Perisic (£5.5m) instead. We wrote earlier that the Croatian winger-turned-wing-back is the prototype of a Conte wing-back and we believe there is a clear idea behind his transfer to Spurs. At Inter, the Croatian was initially loaned to Bayern as he was not up to Conte’s standards, in the Italian’s own opinion, but the manager clearly had faith in him. After that season on loan, Perisic became one of Conte’s most dependable soldiers, and one of the most attacking left wing-backs in the game. Last season, for example, he recorded a rather incredible 8 goals and 7 assists from 34 games, which in FPL terms would very likely result in a 200+ season haul. The new defender is still recovering from an injury at the moment and has featured just half an hour during the ongoing pre-season, but he looks set for a fixed spot in Spurs’ starting eleven for the new season. At £5.5m, Perisic could become FPL gold.

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