Bournemouth vs. Southampton
Venue: Vitality Stadium
Kick off: 2PM
Bournemouth’s first of two must-win games kicks off today as the Cherries welcome Southampton to the Vitality Stadium for the penultimate round of fixtures.
The Cherries are three points adrift of safety before fellow relegation rivals Watford and West Ham United lock horns on Friday, but Southampton are comfortably in mid-table with two games remaining.
Bournemouth are running out of time to avoid a first ever relegation from the Premier League, with their five-year stint in the top flight under serious threat at this very late stage of the campaign.
The Cherries were given a glimmer of hope as they trounced Champions League hopefuls Leicester City 4-1 last weekend, but Eddie Howe’s men were brought crashing back down to earth in midweek as Manchester City inflicted a 2-1 defeat on them on Wednesday.
Howe’s men gave it a real good go against last season’s champions, but David Brooks’s late strike proved nothing more than a mere consolation for the Cherries despite their plucky showing at the Etihad, as first-half goals from Gabriel Jesus and David Silva did the damage early on.
One of West Ham United or Watford can take a giant stride towards survival with victory in Friday’s clash, but a draw would arguably be a worse result for a Bournemouth side needing everything to go their way before the season concludes.
If both Watford and West Ham walk away with a point from their encounter, Bournemouth will be four points below both teams heading into gameweek 37 and would be guaranteed to occupy a spot in the relegation zone before their final-day clash with Everton.
If there is a victor in Friday evening’s game, Bournemouth can move level on points with one of their relegation rivals before the final day, but the Cherries are about to come up against a resolute Southampton side with a Golden Boot-chasing striker in their ranks.
Even though Southampton have now recorded three successive draws in the top flight following their stalemate with Brighton & Hove Albion, Ralph Hasenhuttl can no doubt take the positives from how his side have gone about their business since the restart.
The Saints have now strung together a five-game unbeaten run in the league and have been assured of their safety for some time now, but Hasenhuttl will no doubt want to get another three points on the board regardless of whatever permutations the game may have.
There are no prizes for guessing who bagged Southampton’s equaliser in the draw with Brighton – Danny Ings has now hit the 20-goal mark for the campaign and is still vying for the top scorer accolade with two games remaining.
The Englishman has been nothing short of sensational for the Saints this term and will surely come into Gareth Southgate’s thinking for next year’s Euros should he stay fit, but for now, Ings will endeavour to usurp compatriot Jamie Vardy for the Golden Boot and become the first-ever Southampton player to scoop the award.
Ahead of their final away game of the season, Southampton are still undefeated on the road since the top flight returned, but Bournemouth marched to a 3-1 victory when the sides faced off in the reverse fixture.
Bournemouth possible XI: Ramsdale, Stacey, S. Cook, Kelly, Rico, Lerma, Brooks, Gosling, Billing, King, Wilson.
Southampton possible XI: McCarthy, Walker-Peters, Stephens, Bednarek, Bertrand, Armstrong, Ward-Prowse, Smallbone, Redmond, Ings, Adams.