Morgan Schneiderlin believes keeping Nicolas Anelka and Matej Vydra quiet will be crucial in Southampton's season opener at West Brom.
Mauricio Pochettino's side, who finished 14th in the Premier League last season, open the new campaign with a tough trip to The Hawthorns on Saturday.
West Brom were one of the surprise packages in the top flight last term, finishing eighth despite a run of poor form towards the end.
And Steve Clarke has strengthened his squad in the close-season with the arrivals of Anelka, on a free transfer, and Vydra, on loan from Udinese.
Vydra spent last term on loan at Championship outfit Watford and starred, scoring 22 goals in 44 Championship appearances, and Southampton's Schneiderlin knows his side will need to be at their best to stop him and his compatriot Anelka, who he has admired for some time.
"It's a very tricky start," the midfielder said.
"I'm not sure if many of their players have left, but they've also brought in some quality players, and as a French guy I do admire Anelka.
"I always thought that he was an amazing player. He has abilities that no-one else has. Some people talk about how he conducts himself with the French national team but, for me, what I see is on the pitch.
"He's just a very, very good player and for him to go to West Brom just shows their ambition, too.
"Vydra has also gone there and he was the best player in the Championship, so we know that they have good attacking players."
West Brom are not the only team to improve in the close-season though, with Southampton bringing in midfielder Victor Wanyama and centre-back Dejan Lovren.
Both players are expected to significantly add to Pochettino's squad, and the presence of enforcer Wanyama will offer Schneiderlin competition for his place.
With the likes of captain Adam Lallana, Steven Davis and Jack Cork also capable of playing in central midfield, the 23-year-old needs to play regularly if he wants to be considered for France's squad at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Schneiderlin has featured for his country at several youth levels but is yet to win a senior cap - something he has defined as a key target.
"There are many things that I want to improve on," he said.
"It's a World Cup year and it's going to be very important for me to be in the squad as I haven't been before.
"I want to help Southampton finish as high up as we can and I also want to play at the World Cup, so I have to have a good season. I just want to play my game and to improve."
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