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Already a season of what-ifs for unlucky Bournemouth and Eddie Howe

30 Oct | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Already a season of what-ifs for unlucky Bournemouth and Eddie Howe

After successive 5-1 defeats, the Cherries face another daunting top-flight fixture at South-Coast rivals Southampton

Southampton are the side Eddie Howe would have identified with most following Bournemouth’s promotion to the Premier League.

Both clubs, of course, are from the South Coast.

More pertinently, though, both have progressed through the divisions by playing attractive football and nurturing emerging talent.

In an assured appearance on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football in May, Howe explained how the Cherries would aim to sign British-based players in the summer and maintain the attacking style that lifted them from the Championship.

The talented 37-year-old did just that, spending £15m on five players who had experience of the English game, most notably the talented Ipswich defender Tyrone Mings and exciting forward Max Gradel, formerly of Leeds.

Bournemouth started the season well, too, earning seven points from their first six games.

Since then, though, they have only taken one point from their last four and suffered consecutive 5-1 defeats to Manchester City and Tottenham respectively.

The Cherries have not been good enough defensively, but their struggles are unsurprising considering Mings and Gradel – plus last season’s top scorer Callum Wilson, who scored five goals in his first six games this campaign – have been ruled out for the majority of the season or longer with knee injuries.

There is not a side in the Premier League whose prospects would not be damaged by the prolonged absence of three key players.

For a newly-promoted club, though, it is probably going to be terminal.

Now 17th in the table and just two points above the drop zone, Bournemouth make the short journey to Southampton on Sunday.

The Cherries have conceded 10 goals in their last two outings and the trip to St Mary’s is another daunting fixture.

But that is not because it is a local derby.

The two sides have met just three times in 28 years – the Saints won two League One encounters and a meeting in the League Cup in the 2010/11 season – so the usual bloody and thunder clichés that surround these fixtures do not apply, fortunately.

It is simply the difference in quality that is likely to be decisive.

Southampton have lost just once in eight matches – winning three and drawing four – and are 4/7 to claim all three points on Sunday.

Ronald Koeman’s side have scored at least two goals in four of their five league games at home this season and are 3/1 to win with and for there to be more than 3.5 goals.

The hosts have, however, not kept a clean sheet in five games and a Southampton win with both teams scoring is 9/4.

Graziano Pelle has five goals already in the league this season and is 5/1 to notch first in a Saints win.

Sadio Mane, meanwhile, has scored or assisted seven goals in as many appearances – three goals and four assists – and is 9/2 to score the last goal of the game for the second time in seven days having equalised at Liverpool last weekend.

Bournemouth have never won at Southampton – losing seven and drawing four – but are 5/1 to end that run at the weekend.

That, however, is unlikely.

And while the visitors were never going to be near the level of their well-established this season, it is a shame Howe’s aims for the campaign have been undermined so early on.

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