As underwhelming derbies go, the Southampton-Bournemouth “derby” has to be one of the most overhyped in football.
More a media construct following the prolonged absence of the traditional South Coast derby, there is no real animosity between the fans, despite the occasional nibble between fans on social media.
It has been a tale of two seasons for Southampton and Bournemouth, with an stark contrast in fortunes. The Cherries have plummeted following a promising start, whilst Saints have risen rapidly from the depths of a relegation battle to the heady heights of mid table.
On this occasion, there is a lot riding on this fixture; unusually it is not Southampton in the precarious position of needing late season wins to preserve premier league safety but rather Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth. Win and the Cherries have a real chance of securing an unlikely reprieve. Lose and they are all but down.
Southampton are unbeaten in 5 games with the Arsenal game the only blot on their record since their return to action post-lockdown. Although a weakened side only mustered a point against lowly Brighton on Thursday night, Hasenhuttl looks set to play a strong side at the Vitality Stadium. Interestingly Bournemouth prevailed in the reverse fixture earlier in the season and Saints will be keen to show they are a changed team since that aberration.
Here’s a look at the opposition threats: