Written by Ross Millen (@RossMillen)
AFC Bournemouth are looking to extend their good start to the season with another win over their coastal rivals Southampton.
Despite the local presence of the game, it hasn’t influenced how Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe has prepared for the match.
The manager explained: “The only thing that motivates me is trying to win regardless of who we play against. It could be a training game, but it would still be about winning.
“I think the rivalry has gone from where it was a few years ago, naturally I don’t think the rivalry was there but the more we fight for points in the Premier League, the more it will grow.
“We’ve gone into breaks before in good form and disappointing form. If you’re in good form you use it to hopefully go away and improve some things to do better. Hopefully we’re in that category.”
“I always find the breaks very useful to us, we work really closely with the players. We have a smaller group so we work on a much more one-to-one basis with the players. We always try and maximise the break with a view to come back the better team.”
Last season the Saints were very close to being relegated, however a victory late in April against Cherries helped them secure their Premier League status for another year.
Howe lavished praise on his opposite number ahead of tomorrow’s game: “Mark Hughes is an outstanding manager who’s been in the Premier League a long time. We don’t underestimate them in any way, football can change very quickly.”
Centre-back Nathan Ake has been a stand-out player for Bournemouth since permanently securing his future at Vitality Stadium in 2017, and the Dutchman has recently been linked with a possible move away to the likes of Chelsea and Tottenham.
“It’s a compliment to Nathan and how he’s played for us,” Howe said.
“He’s been a model of consistency and picked up all the players from the end of last season and carried that form into this season.
“Any kind of speculation to be linked with the clubs he’s been linked with is a good sign but that doesn’t mean we’re about to lose him. He’s a massive part of what we’re doing.”
Cherries have only managed to win two of their last 14 encounters with the Saints, and only once since both sides contested top flight football.
Howe explained: “It’s not something I’ve focused on, it’s something we’d like to change to change this weekend. We respect Southampton a lot and know they’re a very good club.”
The boss will “make a late call” on in-form Ryan Fraser, and Joshua King is also a doubt to take on Southampton.
Kick-off is at 3pm tomorrow at Vitality Stadium.