Bournemouth will be aiming to end a run of three successive home defeats in all competitions when they face rivals Southampton, whose run of six games unbeaten was brought to an end last time out.
A draw away to mid-table Watford on Saturday was a decent result for Bournemouth as they continued to show enterprising form on their travels, but it could have been more as a couple of presentable second half chances were missed. The big positive of the afternoon, however, was the return of summer signing Max Gradel from injury. The talented Ivorian winger could prove influential in helping Eddie Howe’s men keep their head above water between now and the end of the season.
Having emerged with little credit in losing the reverse fixture back in November, the Cherries will be desperate not to lose again to their South coast neighbours and will hope to use their pace in attack to good effect in order to penetrate a strong backline. The onus will be on Josh King to do a lot of the damage with his pace and direct approach, especially with striker Benik Afobe set to be tightly marked throughout by three central defenders.
A very positive start and a nicely taken opening goal from Shane Long appeared to have Southampton in a strong position in their game against Chelsea at the weekend, but their run of clean sheets eventually came to an end as club record breaker Fraser Forster was deceived by a low cross and then failed to keep out a powerful header. It was a tough one to lose, so the seventh-placed Saints will be determined to bounce back here as they look for a third away success in a row.
Manager Ronald Koeman has few injury problems to contend with at present and that is giving him a number of big decisions to make in terms his selection. On Saturday he decided to drop Graziano Pelle in favour of fielding Charlie Austin as the central striker, while Sadio Mane, Dusan Tadic and James Ward-Prowse were also among his substitutes, underlining the strength in depth available to the Dutchman. So despite losing at the weekend, the club is in a very healthy state coming into this encounter.
Junior Stanislas is set to miss out for Bournemouth after sustaining a hamstring injury at Watford, but Lewis Grabban may be fit enough to return following a groin problem.
Southampton are likely to be without Long after he was forced off against Chelsea, while Victor Wanyama continues to serve his five-match suspension.
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