Southampton manager Mark Hughes has urged his side to channel their frustrations as they face a season-defining match at St Mary’s against an out of form Bournemouth.
The Saints have claimed just one victory in the league since the back end of November and are in desperate need of another as their Premier League status continues to slip away from their grasp.
The hosts come into the match on the back of a disappointing loss in the FA Cup to Chelsea last weekend at Wembley Stadium. As for the Cherries, they lost out 2-0 at the hands of Manchester United in their previous game.
Hughes’ side now sit four points behind Swansea, who sit in 17th place with just four games remaining. Nothing but a win will do for Saints as the games begin to run out.
The club have claimed just one point from their last five encounters in the Premier League but know that they will need to return to winning ways if they are to get out of their current situation.
Saints have really struggled in front of their supporters this season, having picked up just 16 points from 17 games, which is the second-worst record in the division.
There is an extra spice to this game with the two sides being so closely placed in the country, which should add to the occasion and make it an exciting contest at St Mary’s.
Eddie Howe’s side boast an impressive away record – the ninth best in the division. They have picked up 15 points on their travels from 17 matches.
The sides met earlier in the season when they played out a 1-1 draw at the Vitality Stadium, with Charlie Austin and Ryan Fraser scoring the goals of the game back in December.
Saints boss Hughes has this week sat down and spoken to the media ahead of the visit of Bournemouth in what will be a vital game for the club. As reported by the club’s official website, Hughes said:
We’re in the here and now. It’s about getting points on the board, clearly. We’re up against our local rivals who will have a say in that but I sense this week it’s all about our determination and focus for the game.
Any disappointments or frustrations we’ve had in the past, we must use that to get a better performance out of the group and the players are really focused on doing that at the weekend.
I don’t sense there is any apprehension about what is ahead of us. There’s a real determination to change the situation, which we have to.
We have to win the vast majority of the games that we have left and it is what we’ll attempt to do.
In terms of team news, Steven Davis has been ruled out with an Achilles Injury and is expected to miss the rest of the season. Sofiane Boufal will also miss out after falling out with Hughes, and is now training with the club’s Under-23 side.
As for the visitors, Junior Stanislas, Tyrone Mings and Adam Smith will all miss the game as they are out with long-term injuries. Harry Arter is still struggling with an Achilles Injury.
This is a chance for the Saints to really put the pressure on the teams around them as they look to beat the drop to the Championship.
I think that the Saints will win this one 2-1 on Saturday afternoon.