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Preview: Southampton vs. Bournemouth

Sports Mole previews the Premier League encounter on the South Coast between Southampton and Bournemouth.

Southampton host Bournemouth on Sunday afternoon looking to extend their recent unbeaten record in all competitions to seven matches.

The Cherries make the short trip along the South Coast to St Mary's having conceded 10 goals in their last two Premier League fixtures, and defeat this weekend could see them fall into the relegation zone.


Southampton

Ronald Koeman manager of Southampton looks on prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Swansea City at St Mary's Stadium on September 26, 2015© Getty Images

After starting the season with just one win from six matches, as well as being eliminated from the Europa League, Ronald Koeman may have feared that Southampton would fail to get near repeating their achievements of the previous campaign, where they finished in seventh place in the Premier League.

However, eight points from four league games, as well as progression in the Capital One Cup, has seen the Saints go more than a month without tasting defeat and the optimism at St Mary's is steadily on the rise as they target a place in the top six.

There will be a tinge of disappointment that the club have not kicked on from their 3-1 win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Koeman's men held a 2-0 lead against Leicester City before being pegged back for a 2-2 draw, while they may have expected to heap further frustration on a Liverpool side who have struggled since the start of the season.

Nevertheless, the late equaliser at Anfield, which was followed by a 2-1 triumph over Aston Villa in the League Cup, has left Southampton well placed to make progress up the standings over the weekend, with Crystal Palace, the club directly above them in the table, hosting Manchester United.

Regardless of that result, there is every expectation that Southampton will add three more points to their total, and Graziano Pelle will be keen to add to his tally for the season after scoring in midweek.

The Italian international has only scored once in his last four league outings, but with a total of nine in 11 in all competitions, he carries Southampton's biggest threat on Sunday.

Recent form: DLWWDD
Recent form (all competitions): WWWDDW


Bournemouth

Eddie Howe Manager of Bournemouth looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between A.F.C. Bournemouth and Tottenham Hotspur at Vitality Stadium on October 25, 2015 in Bournemouth, England.© Getty Images

Since the conclusion of the first international break, everyone associated with Bournemouth has come to realise the size of the task in front of them as they look to find a way of maintaining their Premier League status at the end of the season.

Bournemouth would have been buoyed by their 2-0 victory against Sunderland on September 19, but aside from that triumph, the Cherries have just a 1-1 draw with Watford to show for their efforts since the end of August and three defeats in four games has set the alarm bells ringing on the South Coast.

Eddie Howe's team still remain above the relegation zone but back-to-back 5-1 defeats to Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur have derailed any momentum that the club had built after getting a couple of wins on the board during their first half-a-dozen games.

There was a significant improvement during their 1-0 reverse at Liverpool in the League Cup, but it highlighted the club's problems in attack too. Several opportunities were squandered at Anfield, and with Callum Wilson out for much of the season, Howe needs to find a solution to their lack of firepower.

Howe also has a decision to make in goal. First-choice stopper Artur Boruc, who was signed from Southampton, has been at fault for a number of goals in recent weeks, and after Adam Federici performed solidly on Wednesday night, he could find himself thrust into action for the second time this week.

Federici, or Boruc, will need help from their teammates though. Bournemouth go into the match with the worst defensive record on the road having conceded 14 goals in five matches.

Recent form: LWLDLL
Recent form (all competitions): DLDLLL


Team News

Southampton's Senegalese midfielder Sadio Mane runs with the ball during the English Premier League football match between Southampton and Norwich City at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton, southern England on August 30, 2015.© Getty Images

Koeman is able to call upon Sadio Mane after the attacker served his one-match ban for his sending-off against Liverpool during midweek.

However, the Dutchman will not be able to select Jay Rodriguez, who has a foot problem, but Cedric Soares could return at right-back after missing the match with Aston Villa.

Howe could be saved a selection dilemma in goal with Boruc struggling with a thigh injury, but defender Harry Arter is expected to make his Premier League bow after returning from injury against Liverpool.

Junior Stanislas may be handed a start on the flank after impressing during the loss at Anfield.

Southampton possible starting lineup:
Stekelenburg, Cedric, Fonte, van Dijk, Bertrand, Wanyama, Clasie, S.Davis, Mane, Tadic, Pelle

Bournemouth possible starting lineup:
Boruc, Francis, Cook, Distin, Daniels, Ritchie, Arter, Surman, Pugh, Stanislas, Murray


Head To Head

Since the Cherries were renamed AFC Bournemouth in 1972, there have been just five meetings between the two sides.

Southampton have won three of those matches, as well as holding a four-match unbeaten run since the second leg of a League Cup tie in 1987.

The last fixture, which was played in March 2011, saw the Saints run out 3-1 victors.


Video Preview

Hit play below to see what the Sports Mole Sofa had to say about this encounter:



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We say: Southampton 2-0 Bournemouth

Bournemouth would have taken encouragement from restricting Liverpool to just one goal on Wednesday night, but they may find it difficult to stop a Southampton attack who have scored at least twice in each of their home fixtures since August 18.


ID:254960:

Who will win Sunday's clash between Southampton and Bournemouth?

Southampton
Draw
Bournemouth
Southampton
84.7%
Draw
7.6%
Bournemouth
7.6%
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Eddie Howe Manager of Bournemouth looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between A.F.C. Bournemouth and Tottenham Hotspur at Vitality Stadium on October 25, 2015 in Bournemouth, England.
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