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Saints At Bournemouth The Opposition View
Monday, 29th Feb 2016 15:41

The Ugly Inside caught up with DJ from Vital Football Bournemouth and he gave us the lowdown on the Cherries ahead of the Bournemouth vs Southampton game on Tuesday and gave the Cherries view of why they feel they are our rivals these days

Head to head:

TUI:
Let’s have a look a the recent head to head meetings, Saints beat the Cherries 2-0 last time out in the Premier League in November at St Mary’s but the last fixture at the Vitality Stadium was five years in League One when Saints were victorious with a 3-1 victory.

How different will the game by on Tuesday compared to previous fixtures, what are we expecting from this game?

DJ:
AFC Bournemouth were still adjusting to the Premier League at the start of November and had been hit hard by the injuries to the likes of Callum Wilson, Maxi Gradel and Tommy Elphick, while Harry Arter was only just making his first appearance of the season.

That game in the end acted as the catalyst for our up turn in form as the changes at half time by Eddie Howe brought a different style and emphasis on pace which suited us, with Junior Stanislas and Joshua King. Neither brought regular goals, but added a threat to our side which had been missing.

This game will see Maxi Gradel potentially play a part after he returned from injury on Saturday, ironically to replace Stanislas who now looks set to miss around 8 weeks with a hamstring injury. In attack we have also added Benik Afobe and Lewis Grabban during the January transfer window, although the latter has also missed the last couple of games through injury.

Recent form:

TUI:
Bournemouth have only 2 wins in ten and have lost the last 3 home fixtures,

Can you summarise their recent performances for us?

DJ:
All depends which slant you want to put on it, 2 wins in ten, or just 4 defeats in 15 Premier League games

Performances have been good generally. We have sometimes lacked our usual tempo, which has meant we have failed to take a foothold in the game, especially at home, but overall we are performing well and creating chances.

Table:

TUI:
8 places separate the two teams in the league with Saints in 7th on 40 points and Bournemouth in 15th on 29 points.

If Bournemouth were to win this game do you think it will give them the confidence to maintain their Premier League status?

DJ:
I think we have the confidence to maintain our Premier League status win, lose or draw. A result over Southampton will not decide our season. We are currently 15th and hold a five point advantage over the bottom four clubs and hold a better goal difference.

3 wins from now could well prove enough and it doesn't matter when they come, but would obviously be useful if they were to come against Newcastle, Swansea and Aston Villa!

Key Players:

TUI:
Benik Afobe became their club record transfer in January and has contributed with a couple of goals already since arriving.

How important is he for the Cherries and who else would you say are your key players at the moment?

DJ:
Benik Afobe is still adjusting to making the step up to the Premier League, but has slotted into the team seamlessly and links play very well with the players around him. He also has a natural eye for goal and is a goal threat if provided a chance. He was partnered with Joshua King at Watford and those two will offer pace and strength in attack, as would Maxi Gradel if selected, with creativity coming from Harry Arter and Matt Ritchie.

Key player is Andrew Surman, who will sit in front of the back four, keeping play ticking over and reading the game excellently and breaking up play well. A very understated player.

Team News:

TUI:
Bournemouth are still without some long term injuries, Mings, Wilson and Gradel but what sort of team will we see on Tuesday? Will Eddie Howe maintain an unchanged side?

DJ:
Gradel returned as a 20th minute substitute against Watford and didn't appear to feel any ill effects from such a long run out. With Junior Stanislas injured, ideally he would step straight in, but after six months sidelined with a serious knee injury it would be a risk to play so many minutes on such a quick turnaround.

Considering how Southampton set up, the Cherries will probably revert back to a 4-1-4-1 with Dan Gosling coming back into central midfield with either King or Marc Pugh replacing Stanislas out wide, with Gradel as an option from the bench.

South Coast Derby?

TUI:
A lot papers and reports are billing this as a local derby, do you realistically see us as your main rival, what does this game mean to you?

DJ:
I've read numerous articles on TUI about the Southampton/Bournemouth rivalry, both during the League One days and ahead of this fixture and the one at St Mary's earlier in the season. I completely understand that without any historical foundations for a rivalry with either football club or the town, that a rivalry with Bournemouth is not on any form of level of that with Portsmouth. None of that is up for dispute.

On the other hand, the media can bill the game as a local derby accurately because Southampton are geographically our closest neighbours. We share local television, we share local radio and the majority of the time we have to either travel through or past Southampton via road or train to get to any away fixture.

Many Bournemouth fans also see Southampton as our main rival due to historically watching on as so many local supporters from Poole, Bournemouth and Christchurch areas go on to support Southampton instead of their local club and hold an affinity for the town they live in.

Not only have we lost supporters to Southampton over the years but we've also lost local youth prospects, choosing to join your wonderful academy over our own. Not something you can argue logically, any talented young player would make that jump, but since when has supporting a football club been logical?

There is also an element of rivalry with supporters, with Southampton fans over the years appearing arrogant and patronising in how they perceived their input during our financial problems. Many clubs helped raise money for the Cherries during the days of rattling buckets, but it's only supporters of Southampton who insist on reminding anyone about it on a fairly frequent basis.

That all adds to why some Bournemouth supporters (not all) hold a dislike for Southampton. Does it make Southampton our main rival? Probably, just as much as why other Bournemouth fans consider Leeds as a rival or Reading for different reasons, it doesn't have to be reciprocated for them to consider them as a rival and of course there are levels of rivalry.

I would imagine you would find it difficult to find any die hard Bournemouth fan who dislikes Southampton just as much as any die hard Portsmouth fan, so it needs to be kept in context.

It is however ironic that some Southampton supporters make so much of an effort to tell Bournemouth fans that it's not a rivalry. In League One I seem to remember the "We are Southampton, we don't care about you"... chant, which also got an airing in November. If that was completely true it wouldn't be sung as they would have been completely indifferent...same goes for any songs about Bournemouth.

The "It's not a rivalry" discussion could end up sparking a rivalry amongst those fans who care enough.

Personally I have lived in Southampton whilst studying and have experienced getting the full history of how great Southampton is and why Bournemouth wouldn't exist without Southampton from numerous all knowing Taxi drivers. That at the time certainly used to be really grinding, but I haven't held a long-standing grudge against all Southampton fans because of it. Instead it would just be nice to get the result as my father-in-law is a Southampton fan.

Prediction:

TUI:
Finally can we have a score prediction?

DJ:
Unfortunately for AFC Bournemouth, Southampton have built another excellent side and are in fine form. With our history regarding Charlie Austin he is guaranteed to at least score one.
I'd be happy to take a point before the game and inch closer to the 36-40 point mark.

For more articles on AFC Bournemouth head to afcb.vitalfootball.co.uk or find them on Twitter @UTCIAD


Photo: Action Images



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SaintBrock added 18:57 - Feb 29
Good interview. No way will Bournemouth go down this season but they will need to up their game next year to avoid second season syndrome. I think Eddie Howe is a bit naive to believe he can survive in the bottom echelons of the Premier League by playing attractive attacking football alone. He needs to get more steel and better tactics into his defensive organisation to give his strikers the time and space to play their football.

They could beat us tomorrow but the way they play may give us more time and space than usual so somehow this seems unlikely. I fancy us to find some attacking form at last and win fairly comfortably.
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