Puel excited for "special" opener

Southampton manager Claude Puel is looking forward to his first Premier League game in charge at home to Watford on Saturday.

Southampton: Puel excited for

Experienced Frenchman Puel was named as Ronald Koeman’s successor earlier this summer following the Dutchman’s decision to leave St Mary’s and join rivals Everton.

The 54-year-old Puel arrived from Nice, who finished fourth in Ligue 1 last season, and Saints fans will be hoping a similar position can be achieved in the Premier League this term.

Southampton have had to deal with some notable exits in the current transfer window, having lost Sadio Mane to Liverpool for over £30million and Italy striker Graziano Pelle to Shandong Luneng for £12m.

Puel has brought in some new additions to the squad after signing Pierre Hojbjerg, Jeremy Pied and Alex McCarthy, but there is still a need for more attacking reinforcements.

Shane Long and Charlie Austin are the only two recognised strikers at the club and the duo will have a lot of pressure on their shoulders heading into the new season.

The Saints play host to Watford, who also changed managers with Walter Mazzarri replacing Quique Sanchez Flores, in their opener and Puel is looking for a fast start from his players.

“The first game of the season is always a special day,” he said. “It’s important at the beginning, for the start of the season, to stay with a good concentration about our play with all the details we can work on in the training.”

Southampton are undefeated in the last five meetings across all competition against Watford and punters may decide to use their free bet on Saturday’s hosts extending their record further.

The most recent clash between the two teams was back in January when goals from Long and Dusan Tadic helped the Saints to a comfortable 2-0 win.

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