Bournemouth Echo journalist Ned Payne gives us the inside track on the Cherries ahead of their trip to face Southampton at St Mary's this weekend...
How would you sum up Bournemouth’s season overall?
It has been a successful season in the sense they are now likely to avoid the drop.
Bournemouth had a rocky start but put together a good run between Boxing Day and mid-March which should prove the cornerstone of their survival. They can still finish in the top half and that would be a huge achievement.
What has the form been like since the last meeting between the sides and has anything changed tactically?
As I mentioned, Bournemouth went on a useful run after Boxing Day but they have actually only won one of their past nine Premier League fixtures. Eddie Howe’s side have drawn lots of games since the turn of the year but have scored plenty of goals as well – only Liverpool and Manchester United have stopped them finding the net in the league. I think everyone knows what to expect from Bournemouth under Howe. Attractive, open football. That won’t change.
Who have been the key men for Bournemouth of late?
Lewis Cook has enjoyed a breakthrough season and has been a regular in Howe’s thinking, culminating in his England call-up. The midfielder can unlock defences with one pass and is developing his game all the time. Nathan Ake has been excellent in the heart of defence since his £20million move from Chelsea last summer.
How are Bournemouth viewing the game?
The players will be focused on getting another win and securing their place in the top flight next season. It’s not about deepening Southampton’s troubles, it’s about inching closer to the club-record points tally Bournemouth set last season. They have to win their three remaining games to beat it but it’s still possible.
What sort of a game are you expecting?
It’s a match Southampton have to win so I’m expecting them to go for it. Bournemouth will play their usual open, attacking football. There are likely to be plenty of chances and a few goals.