The Premier League have announced that Southampton’s proposed away trip to West Ham United – scheduled for Gameweek 2 – has now swapped venues.
The change was required due to the World Athletics Championship which is taking place at the London Stadium.
Southampton will now host the Hammers at St Mary’s on Saturday August 19. This, of course, means that the reverse fixture – scheduled for March 31 – has also flipped.
The alteration compounds an already hugely favourable opening three months to the season for Southampton.
They now enjoy a trio of home matches over the opening four Gameweeks with Swansea City, West Ham United and Watford the visitors, around a Gameweek 3 away trip to newly promoted Huddersfield Town.
That spell is just the beginning of an incredible run which has the Saints play just one of the top six – Manchester United at St Mary’s – over their first 12 Gameweeks.
Ironically, it follows their two Double Gameweeks at the end of last season which saw Southampton’s squad elevated as a key source of talent for Fantasy Premier League managers.
Managed at the time by Claude Puel, the Saints failed to convince over that season run-in, with striker Manolo Gabbiadini in particular, proving a major disappointment.
Fantasy managers now face the prospect of being forced to return to the Saints – who are still managerless following Puel’s recent departure – as a result of their overwhelmingly favourable schedule.
Depending on pre-season form, Gabbiadini may even be granted a reprieve as a third forward option. Meanwhile, at the back, Virgil van Dijk would be a likely target should he remain at the club, with Nathan Redmond and Dusan Tadic perhaps the current contenders in midfield.
As for West Ham, they are now forced to endure four away trips over their first five Gameweeks, travelling to Manchester United, Southampton, Newcastle United and West Brom, while hosting Huddersfield in Gameweek 4.
That will ensure that Slaven Bilic’s side will be seen as a no-go area, with their schedule improving from Gameweek 7 onwards.
Our season tickers have been updated to reflect this afternoon’s change.