Southampton fans have had it hard this season. They have often witnessed their side playing some good, slick flowing football against their opponents, but have, more often than not, been left disappointed by the final scoreline.
This Saturday they travel along the south coast to face local rivals Bournemouth, who boast a far better start to the season – far better than most would have predicted.
The Cherries currently sit 6th in the table with 16 points after five wins, 2 losses and a draw, nipping at the heels of the Prem’s current top 5; just 2 points behind 5th placed Tottenham. Southampton meanwhile sit in 16th on just 5 points, and are winless in the league since their 2-0 away win against Crystal Palace on September 1st.
The Saints were swept aside in their previous Premier League encounter, as a very strong Chelsea side stuck three past them to continue their fantastic start to the season. Eden Hazard, Ross Barkley and Alvaro Morata were on target to pile more misery and pain on Mark Hughes’ side, who will hope that the recent international break can offer them a chance restart their campaign and pick up points, starting with their trip to the Vitality.
Bournemouth however are in excellent form. They produced a fine display in their 4-0 win over Watford before international duties, their biggest ever away win the Premier League. Young Welshman David Brooks netted the opener before Joshua King’s brace blew the Hornets out of the tie convincingly.
Both sides had to settle for a 1-1 draw in this fixture back in December last year, as Ryan Fraser saw his goal cancelled out for out-of-form Charlie Austin.
Mark Hughes has confirmed that he’ll have a full complement of players to chose from ahead of this weekend’s Premier League trip to Bournemouth.
Alex McCarthy returned from England duty early, while Maya Yoshida and Mario Lemina have both had long journeys after their respective international commitments, but the manager has been pleased to welcome back all players in good health, and good spirits.
“Thankfully everybody seems to have come through their international games fit and well,” Hughes said.
“Maya [Yoshida] and Mario Lemina were last back, late last night (Wednesday), but in training this morning so that’s pleasing.
“McCarthy came back early from the England squad, he had a bit of tightness in his hamstrings. It was a bit uncomfortable after one session, so it was the right decision for him to return. We have very good communication with the England team. But all in all we’re okay, they’ve all come back in good heart.”
Bournemouth too have no real new injury concerns. Ryan Fraser was forced to withdraw from Scotland’s 23 man squad before the international period, but should be fit to return for his club. The Cherries will also welcome the re-inclusion of Diego Rico at left back, who has returned to fitness having not featured since their defeat to Burnley. There have been rumours surrounding Nathan Ake cropping up this week, with reports suggesting Tottenham are interested in his services, but this shouldn’t disrupt his place in Bournemouth’s side
Predicted line ups:
Southampton (4-4-2): McCarthy; Cedric, Vestergaard, Hoedt, Bertrand; Elyounoussi, Hojbjerg, Lemina, Redmond; Long, Ings.
Alex McCarthy is expected to start despite his injury while on duty with the England squad, and Vestergaard should return to the starting XI despite his recent hot-and-cold form. Lemina retuned late from duty with Gabon, but will be keen to build on his 2 victories he achieved with his nation.
Bournemouth (4-4-2): Begovic; Francis, S Cook, Ake, Rico; Brooks, Lerma, L Cook, Fraser; Wilson, King.
David Brooks will be sure to be rewarded for his fine form of late with another inclusion in the starting side, who will no doubt be in high spirits following his call up the Wales squad last week. The deadly duo of Josh King and Callum Wilson will no doubt continue to start alongside one another, who have 7 goals between them this season, and will look to add to that against a shaky Saints defence; these 2 may be the difference for Bournemouth, who should see other three points added to their total if their strike-force carry on in the form they’ve been in recently.
Prediction – Bournemouth 1-1 Southampton
(Quote credits: Southampton FC)