Southampton full-back Ryan Bertrand will miss the season opener against Watford because of a knee injury.
New Southampton manager Claude Puel has favoured a midfield diamond during pre-season, with Shane Long and Nathan Redmond set to start in attack.
Watford head coach Walter Mazzarri will be without new signings Brice Dja Djedje and Isaac Success because of respective foot and leg injuries.
Craig Cathcart is nursing a back problem but is expected to play.
MOTD COMMENTATOR’S NOTES
Tony Husband: “New managers, new formations and some new players will be on show at St Mary’s for a clash of two clubs accustomed to change.
The Saints, with Frenchman Claude Puel in charge, must prove they can cope without the goals of the departed Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle. Step up Shane Long and summer signing Nathan Redmond in a diamond formation.
Puel has a reputation for sticking around wherever he has worked – that would be welcome on the south coast.
Walter Mazzarri is Watford’s seventh boss in five seasons; like Puel, he’s new to the Premier League but has vast experience. The Hornets have used a 3-5-2 formation for much of pre-season, but much rests on Odion Ighalo finding goalscoring form alongside talisman Troy Deeney and new signing Isaac Success.”
WHAT THE MANAGERS SAY
Southampton manager Claude Puel: “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.”
- 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.
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