|Southampton 1 v 3 AFC Bournemouth|
Barclays Premier League
Friday, 20th September 2019 Kick-off 20:00
Saints V Bournemouth The Preview
Friday, 20th Sep 2019 14:18
Another Friday night game, this one against the team from across the New Forest, as Bournemouth attempt to break their St Mary's hoodoo.
Both sides go into this clash on a high, Saints after beating Sheffield United and the Cherries despatching Everton at home, giving them 3 points that lifted them above Saints on goal difference.
But although it makes the League table look a little nicer for Bournemouth, they know that the difference is miniscule, if Everton had scored a late consolation on Sunday then they would have below Saints.
But both sides are looking to move upwards after a mixed start, a win for either would see third place secured at least until the rest of the division start to play tomorrow.
A draw though would do little other than perhaps raise one or both above West Ham, so that should perhaps make for an open game.
Ralph Hasenhuttl appears to have a full squad to pick from, except of course Nathan Redmond who although pictured in training might still be a little way from a return to the action after injuring an ankle at Fulham almost four weeks ago, back then his recovery time was given as 3-4 weeks so he could feature, but i suspect it would be at best on the bench.
This is a loss that Saints can cope with in that they have plenty of attacking options and cause the Cherries problems going forward, however the issues still remain at the back where the defence looked far from assured at Sheffield despite a clean sheet and Ralph hasenhuttl has to decide whether to bring Kevin Danso back in and if so who for.
My money is that we need his pace and strength so Danso will return, but will it be in central trio or a back four and that asks questions in itself.
I would bring him in for Yoshida in a central trio, his pace makes him the ideal central figure and we need to combat Callum Wilson's own pace.
If it is a back four then I could see him being played alongside Bednarek with Cedric on one flank, i'm not sure which and the return of either Bertand or Cedric, or alternatively he might be used as a left back.
As always the key to the game is being able to stay tight and free of errors and not keep leaving people unmarked as we did on a couple of occasions at Bramall Lane last week, this problem has to be rectified in January, we know we have no leader in the defence and this is a problem.
In midfield Romeu and PEH have dominated and will keep it tight, JWP could add passing ability and then it is a case of looking at attacking options, Djenepo seems to be a certainty and Boufal, Danny Ings and Che Adams have all looked good this season, Shane Long offers the battling qualities, not to mention Redmond if he returns and even Michael Obafemi.
What we want is a good error free performance aligned with no injuries ahead of Tuesday's big game.
I think we are in better shape than at any time in the past 2 1/2 years, not quite in the shape we want to be, but we are one defender short of a good squad, we can go out with confidence that we can beat Bournemouth, although they will feel the same way about their side.
So far they have not been convincing, although they beat Everton 3-1 the Toffee's looked the better side for long periods and gave away three soft goals, but that is the way Bournemouth play under Eddie Hour, long periods of sitting back with bursts of fast paced attacking on the break.
This is another big game for Saints though in that a win will hoist us up to our highest position in a couple of years and give us confidence that we can look upwards rather than over our shoulders.
Sadly the game hasn't attracted the enthusiasm of our real derby game on Tuesday and a combination of it being on a Friday night, on TV and the price of football these days means there will be a few empty seats in the house.
Photo: Action Images
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