Preview: Southampton vs. Bournemouth

Preview: Southampton vs. Bournemouth

Premier League basement club Southampton welcome South-coast rivals Bournemouth to St Mary’s for a relegation battle on Thursday night.

While the Saints have failed to win each of their last four top-flight matches on home soil, the Cherries are seeking to claim their third consecutive win on the road.

After a run of three successive defeats, relegation-threatened Southampton were written off by many ahead of last Friday’s trip to league leaders Arsenal, but Ruben Selles’s men put in a valiant display to secure a hard-earned point in a hectic 3-3 draw at the Emirates Stadium.

Carlos Alcaraz and former Arsenal man Theo Walcott put the Saints two goals ahead inside the opening 14 minutes, before Gabriel Martinelli pulled one back. Substitute Duje Caleta-Car then got in on the act to restore Southampton’s two-goal cushion midway through the second half, but two late strikes from Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka, including a 90th-minute equaliser from the latter, forced both sides to share the spoils.

Few Southampton fans would have turned their noses up at claiming a point against the Gunners before kickoff, but to drop two valuable points in the dying embers would have been a bitter pill to swallow, and they remain rooted to the foot of the Premier League table.

The Saints, who are now winless in seven league matches, have just six fixtures remaining to reduce the four-point gap to safety, with Thursday’s clash against Bournemouth one of only two on the horizon against a fellow bottom-half team.

Southampton have lost 10 Premier League home games this season, the most in the division and their joint-most in a single league campaign (along with 1993-94 and 2019-20), but they have won each of their last three meetings with Bournemouth in all competitions, including a 1-0 top-flight away victory in October, and success on Thursday would see the Saints complete their first league double over the Cherries since 2010-11.

Spirits were sky-high in the Bournemouth camp when they entered Sunday’s contest at home against West Ham United having previously claimed back-to-back away victories over Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur.

However, the Cherries were brought back down to earth in emphatic fashion as they were heavily beaten 4-0 by the Hammers on home soil, with three first-half goals from Michail Antonio, Lucas Paqueta and Declan Rice followed by a somewhat fortunate second-half scorpion kick from Pablo Fornals, condemning the hosts to their 17th defeat of the season.

An upturn in form, accumulating nine points from a possible 12 available, had helped Gary O’Neil’s side climb six points clear of the relegation zone, but defeat to West Ham has seen that gap cut to five with the Cherries sitting 15th in the table.

Bournemouth are now preparing for two potentially pivotal fixtures against relegation rivals Southampton and Leeds United, and O’Neil will feel that securing maximum points in both games would all but seal their place in the top flight for next season.

The away team has won the last four meetings between Southampton and Bournemouth, which bodes well for a Cherries side who are looking to secure three successive Premier League away wins for the first time when they walk out at St Mary’s on Thursday.

Southampton Premier League form:

Bournemouth Premier League form:

We say: Southampton 1-2 Bournemouth
Both sides are fully aware of the importance of securing maximum points on Thursday in their bid to avoid the drop, with the pressure particularly on Southampton’s shoulders as they are running out of games to climb out of the bottom three.

A slender win at the Vitality Stadium six months ago will provide some optimism for the Saints, but we believe that the Cherries will respond to their heavy defeat last time out and continue their strong away form with a victory at St Mary’s.

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