Southampton should be aiming for a top 12 finish in the Premier League

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With the start of the Premier League season just days away, we take a look at the chances of Southampton, who start with a highly-charged trip to Liverpool on Sunday afternoon.

The Saints, with new manager Ronald Koeman at the helm, have had a turbulent summer, with a wave of high-profile departures, a player revolt and an influx of new signings occurring on the South coast.

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But now all the talking is said and done, how will Koeman and his charges fare when the dust has finally settled?

High expectations

Koeman and the board have set themselves fairly lofty targets for the coming season, with the former particularly mentioning the goal of aiming to match if not better last season's eighth-placed finish.

Whilst that does not appear to be realistic, there is no point in aiming low.

With the squad at his disposal and the money available from the summer departures of Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Rickie Lambert and Calum Chambers still burning a hole in his pocket, there is no reason why the Saints cannot finish in mid-table.

Team spirit

One of the main reasons behind Southampton's fantastic season last year was no doubt down to the team spirit in the playing squad and coaching staff.

The Southampton media team made frequent posts on social media pointing to the camaraderie in the squad, and that had to play a role in the good season that they had.

Due to the departures this summer, where certain players were said to have fallen out with the club's board and directors, as well as the Morgan Schneiderlin situation which still rumbles on, it remains to be seen whether the same team spirit remains.

It would be understandable if seeing four or five of your teammates move to pastures new this summer, along with the Schneiderlin situation, has a detrimental effect on the squad, but it is up to Koeman to stop that from happening.

Squad depth

Looking at the squad closely, Southampton seem a little short when it comes to numbers, although they are again looking to the successful youth system as much as they can.

In defence, Fraser Forster and Ryan Bertrand have come in, but they seem to be lacking in the middle following Lovren's departure. They could do with one if not two new players in this position to really be competitive.

The midfield looks to be their strongest area, even without want-away midfielder Schneiderlin involved. Saphir Taider has been added to an already bustling unit of Steven Davis, Jack Cork, Victor Wanyama, James Ward-Prowse, Harrison Reed and Schneiderlin.

In attack, Dusan Tadic and Graziano Pelle have been brought in to join Gaston Ramirez and Sam Gallagher, as well as Lloyd Isgrove who has been promoted from within. This area looks in need of some depth, but with the reported signing of Shane Long and the recovery of Jay Rodriguez going well, Southampton could still be well equipped this season.

Predicted finish

Despite many of the top pundits predicting a somewhat difficult season for Southampton in a relegation battle, their squad contains enough quality for this not to be the case.

A strong spine of Forster, Fonte and Schneiderlin gives a good base for Koeman to build around, and if his additions come good early on, Southampton could still have a good season.

Overall, Koeman should be aiming for a top-12 finish, something that is a realistic target for the men from St. Mary's.

How do you think Southampton will fair this season? Comment in the box below with your predictions.

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