Get game ready for Saturday's visit of Bournemouth to St Mary's with our in-depth match preview...
Southampton vs AFC Bournemouth
Saturday 28th April, 3pm BST
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
A game of huge significance for Southampton, and comparatively less for Bournemouth, who are settled in mid-table on 38 points, but will nevertheless be keen to strengthen their position further, for avoidance of doubt.
Saints had a break from Premier League action last weekend, while the Cherries entertained Man United, losing 2-0 at the Vitality Stadium.
There would be no better time for Hughes to get his first league win as they look to close the gap on those above them and a morale-boosting victory would only serve to increase the confidence amongst the group. Away trips to Everton and Swansea follow, both equally as important, as Saints look to preserve their top flight status.
And the hosts may yet sense an opportunity on Saturday, as Bournemouth have also been struggling for form, only picking up two points from their last four games and excluding the so-called 'big six', they’ve had stalemates in six of their last seven on the road.
Southampton: Mark Hughes confirmed this week that captain Steven Davis will continue a frustrating spell on the sidelines as he nurses a repetitive ankle injury, but Saints will welcome back defender Jack Stephens, who has now served his three match suspension.
AFC Bournemouth: Cherries boss Eddie Howe has revealed that Harry Arter is set to miss this weekend's St Mary's clash with an achilles problem, and Adam Smith also continues a spell on the sidelines.
Southampton’s previous five:
Chelsea (n) L 2-0 (FA Cup)
Leicester City (a) D 0-0
Chelsea (h) L 3-1
Arsenal (a) L 3-2
West Ham (a) L 3-0
Bournemouth's previous five:
Man Utd (h) L 2-0
Liverpool (a) L 3-0
Crystal Palace (h) D 2-2
Watford (a) D 2-2
West Brom (h) W 2-1
Young centre-half Jan Bednarek has been a more than capable replacement for Jack Stephens, who has now served his three match absence, and could be in contention to return this Saturday - though another solid performance against Chelsea at Wembley may yet have given the Pole a chance of retaining his place.
Charlie Austin and Shane Long were partnered in attack at Wembley and looked effective in patches, with Hughes confirming this week that top scorer Austin is again fit and available ahead of this weekend's vital Premier League clash.
Top scorers: Charlie Austin (7), Dušan Tadić (4) James Ward-Prowse (4) Steven Davis, Jack Stephens, Manolo Gabbiadini (all 3)
Most assists: Ryan Bertrand (4), Nathan Redmond, Dušan Tadić, James Ward-Prowse (all 3)
Bournemouth's top scorer in the league, Callum Wilson is without a goal since January - but the 26-year-old is someone Saints will have to be wary of, should he feature.
Josh King and Jermain Defoe may be preferred in attack, with Eddie Howe in the envious position of being able to rotate personnel more freely.
King's late leveller against Crystal Palace a few weeks back meant the Cherries have won a league-high 18 points from losing positions, and suggests they aren't to be ruled out, even if behind late on.
Top scorers: Callum Wilson (7), Josh King (6), Junior Stanislas (5)
Most assists: Jordan Ibe (6), Andrew Surman (4), Nathan Aké (3)
Previous five meetings:
Nov 2015: Southampton 2-0 Bournemouth
March 2016: Bournemouth 2-0 Southampton
Dec 2016: Bournemouth 1-3 Southampton
April 2017: Southampton 0-0 Bournemouth
Dec 2017: Bournemouth 1-1 Southampton
DID YOU KNOW?
- Southampton have never lost a home match against Bournemouth in all competitions (W8 D5).
- Eddie Howe is yet to see his side score a goal in five away visits to St. Mary’s in all competitions (D1 L4), with those four defeats all ending 2-0 (one with Burnley, three with Bournemouth).
NOT AT THE GAME?
Not able to make it to St Mary's this weekend? We’ll be with you every step of the way on our interactive match centre at southamptonfc.com, where we will have all the build-up, as well as in-game updates and free live audio commentary.
Additionally, be sure to follow us on our various social channels for behind-the-scenes access and further updates.