Dan Fitch is expecting a tight match between a new look Southampton side when they host a potentially tired Burnley on Sunday...
"Burnley finished ten places and eighteen points ahead of Southampton last season, claiming four points from their two encounters, which included an away victory at St Mary’s.
Southampton [1.88] v Burnley [5.2]; The Draw [3.55]
Saints signings raise hopes but not expectations
Southampton had a very difficult time last season. They sacked Mauricio Pellegrino and replaced him with Mark Hughes in an effort to stay up and, though the new manager was able to steer them to safety, a total of just 36 points would have seen them relegated in most seasons.
Clearly, Southampton need to improve, but their transfer activity will leave fans feeling hopeful at best, rather than confident. New signings such as Stuart Armstrong, Mohamed Elyounoussi, Angus Gunn and Jannik Vestergaard all have the potential to improve the Saints, yet the law of averages suggests that not all will prove successful.
The biggest problem Hughes faced this summer was introducing a new striker to liven up a frontline that has proved to be a weakness for Southampton over the last two seasons. A deadline day loan of Danny Ings is Southampton's solution. It might well work, though there are still major doubts regarding Ings fitness and ability to recapture the form that persuaded Liverpool to buy him in 2015.
With the Ings signing having been made so late in the window, it remains to be seen as to whether he'll be deemed fit to start, with a place on the bench a more likely option. The other major question for Hughes is whether to throw Cedric Soares straight back into the team, with the right wing-back not having had much of a pre-season following his World Cup campaign with Portugal.
Can Burnley cope with Europa schedule?
Burnley were the surprise package in the Premier League last season, yet there is the danger that their success will make it much tougher for them in the current campaign.
Their seventh placed finish saw Burnley qualify for the Europa League. It's a competition that had proved to be draining for much bigger and stronger squads than the one that Sean Dyche has at his disposal and the manager's reputation will be enhanced even further if he can juggle Burnley's commitments without too much of a drop off in their domestic form.
That ability will be tested on this first weekend of Premier League action. Burnley make the long trip to Southampton, having only returned home from Turkey on Friday morning, following their 0-0 draw with Istanbul Basaksehir. Dyche has a slim squad and he was only able to add Joe Hart, Ben Gibson and Matej Vydra to his first-team options this summer.
The Europa League campaign has already proved costly in terms of injuries, with the tie against Aberdeen seeing goalkeeper Nick Pope ruled out for some months and striker Chris Wood pick up a knock. Other likely absentees on Sunday include Rob Brady, Steven Defour and Tom Heaton.
Burnley underestimated again
Southampton are the [1.88] favourites, with the draw at [3.55] and Burnley at [5.2].
Even when taking into account Burnley's likely fatigue, they seem to be underestimated. They finished ten places and eighteen points ahead of Southampton last season, claiming four points from their two encounters, which included an away victory at St Mary's.
With Southampton trying to integrate new players into a unfamiliar formation, Burnley's potential tiredness could be mitigated. The draw may pay out, but with Burnley such a big price, back them to avoid defeat in the Double Chance market at [2.1].
Burnley won't exploit Saints' defensive issues
Southampton struggled in attack last season, yet their total of 37 goals was actually one better than Burnley's.
It's no surprise then that under 2.5 goals is the favourite at [1.65], with overs out at [2.46]. Southampton conceded a lot of goals in pre-season, but it doesn't seem likely that Burnley are in a state to really exploit their defensive weakness.
Same Game Multi pick
Betfair's Same Game Multi feature allows you to combine bets within the same match, with one convenient price. A double of under 2.5 goals and a draw pays out at odds of [3.8].