The final action of Saturday is a South Coast derby which takes us to the St Mary’s as Southampton play host to Bournemouth, going into the weekend the two sides sit 10th and 11th respectively but with this being the final game of the day there is every likelihood that the two sides will slip down a couple of places, but knowing a win for either side will see them move back into the top half of the table.
For Eddie Howe he will be hoping that he is not jinxed by the curse of the manager of the month award, Howe picked up his ever accolade of this kind yesterday after reviving the clubs fortunes. Many felt that the writing was on the wall for Bournemouth as they looked in the midst of ‘Second Season Syndrome’ but seven points from a possible nine has seen them put some daylight between them and the bottom three.
After an impressive draw away at Manchester United which saw Tyrone Mings subsequently banned for five games after a perceived stamp on Zlatan Ibrahimovic, The Cherries have followed that result up with back to back home wins over both West Ham and Swansea. In their bid to beat the drop this season and earn a third consecutive season in the top flight those two wins could prove crucial.
Their last outing before the international break was somewhat of a 6 pointer as they faced Swansea. It’s a win that has but Swansea back in the relegation mire once again while realistically leaving Bournemouth needing just two wins to secure Premier League safety for another season, they will come into this game with Southampton in good form but has the international hiatus halted their momentum.
For the hosts Southampton they come into this game off of the back of a 2-1 defeat to Tottenham before the break. On another day they could have very well came away with a draw. A number of missed chances with the scoreline at only 1-0 down meant that Southampton will not only be ruing their luck but also the fact that Manolo Gabbiadini picked up a groin injury and will not feature in this encounter.
After bursting onto the scene, the fact that Gabbiadini will miss out is undoubtedly a big blow for manager Claude Puel but he will be able to call on Nathan Redmond and James Ward-Prowse who were named in Gareth Southgate’s England squad last week. Also set to make his debut in Martin Caceres as Maya Yoshida has been on international duty for Japan and is more than likely to be rested.
Southampton have failed to hit the heady heights of the last two season and the sole aim will be to secure a top half finish and with three points separating them in 10th and defending champions Leicester in 15th. That means they will need to keep adding points to the board in this final quarter of the season and keep the other 5 teams at bay.
What they do have in their favour though is the fact that they have two games in hand over a majority of the teams around them and they are only 3 points behind Stoke with a superior goal difference, so should results go their way with The Saints winning and Mark Hughes’ men losing to Leicester they will leapfrog The Potters.
Can they get that win though, without Gabbiadini it will be tough and then you have to factor in the form that Bournemouth are currently in. With the league placings that these two sides you obviously cannot get more of a mid-table clash than this and therefore I think the two sides will end up cancelling each other out. I reckon this one will end up a score draw.