|AFC Bournemouth 0 v 3 Southampton|
Saturday, 20th March 2021 Kick-off 12:15
Southampton At Bournemouth The Preview
Friday, 19th Mar 2021 12:49
Make no bones about it this can make or break our season, win this game and not only will we be 90 minutes from Wembley but it will give a buzz about the place for the last 9 games of the season so we can get the 2 wins needed to see us safe from the worry of relegation.
It's been a bit doom and gloom in the Saints fanbase of late, but the FA Cup has been a welcome relief and Saints now have a big chance to add a bit of glory to the season and when you play a game in the FA Cup with respect to the Cherries you want to be drawn with the lowest ranking team in the competition.
Both teams have their injury problems, Saints will be without six players for the game incluiding the injured Danny Ings , Theo Walcott ,Oreol Romeu and the cup tied Takumi Minamino, but we still have plenty in reserve
But Bournemouth have bigger problems in their squad, they are likely to be missing 7 on Saturday and most of them have been regulars and key players.
Saints need to go into this game with confidence and a swagger, we need to rediscover the form that we had in the final six months of 2020, we are not a bad team and we haven't become one over night, we have just suffered some appalling injuries and bad luck.
But the time for excuses was over a week ago and we have to put the Brighton result behind us and concentrate on this game.
I would not expect too many changes from the starting line up against the Seagulls, Fraser Forster in goal and the same back four of KWP, Bednarek, Vestergaard and Bertrand.
In the centre of midfield JWP & Ibrahima Diallo with Stuart Armstrong on one side, who will play on the other side is up for debate and this is where we lack a little bit of options with Ings out and Minamino cup tied.
Popular choice would be Moussa Djenepo and that would leave Che Adams and Nathan Tella up front.
On the bench aside from Alex McCarthy we should have Jack Stephens, Mohammed Salisu & Nathan Redmond to give us experience, then we are down to the youth verging from promising as in Caleb Watts, and unproven as in Dan N'Lundulu & untried as in a number of others including Chauke & Jankewitz.
Usually there is a glimpse of the squad training on the Thursday before a game, but this week's pictures were very limited and just showed several players taking shots, the question is whether this was a calculated thing by Ralph Hasenhuttl, if it was whether it was good or bad is still unknown, little has been said about Danny Ings or Theo Walcott or how near they are to a return, could one be ready for the bench on Saturday.
Bournemouth have injury problems of their own and are set to be missing 5 first team regulars through injury including Lewis Cook, Lloyd Kelly, Adam Smith, David Brookes and their top scorer Junior Stanislav and they also have Jefferson Lermer suspended, all of these players are usually first choice, Saints loanee Shane Long will miss the game through being cup tied.
So the question is whether Bournemouth can handle having so many key players out , only Long would not be considered a potential starter in that he has fallen out of favour since Jonathan Woodgate has taken over as manager.
The Cherries form has been up and down of late and it has seen them drop out of the promotion play off spots, the win over Swansea on Tuesday has got them back within two points of 6th place, but the 3-0 scoreline was not as convincing as it suggests.
Bournemouth seem to be a direct side, they sit back and then get the ball forward quickly on the break, this is the one worrying aspect of their game, dealing with counter attacks is not our strongest point.
So the big dilemma for Jonathan Woodgate is whether he priorities this game over chasing promotion, does he play his strongest side and risk losing more key players, or does he go for it, knowing that if he gets anymore injuries then it could impact on his teams promotion chances and from that point the last thing he needs at the moment is another game in the schedule, to get to an FA Cup Final would be a first for the Cherries, but they need a big profile game distracting their season like they need a hole in the head.
But you have to say that if you asked the question if any of their players would get in our starting line up ? then the answer would be no ! they are a good Championship side, but they are far from being Premier League quality, they went down last season and have lost key players since then.
To give an example Norwich City who went down rock bottom last season are romping to the title this year.
One thing in Saints favour will be the lack of a crowd, Bournemouth like to think that there is a rivalry and indeed the local press is trying to stir it up as such, the Bournemouth Echo says "This opportunity doesn't come around a lot, Cherries growing rivalry with Saints is set for it's most compelling chapter yet, but for Saints fans it's just another game and pales in comparison with our "friendship" with Pompey.
So if we had been going down there with 1,200 fans , we would be well outnumbered by a Bournemouth support with chips on both shoulders, it would be billed as a blood and thunder local derby and perhaps one of those occasions where the crowd can truly influence a result and stir its team on.
But it won't be that, it will be an empty stadium and hopefully that will suit Saints we can weather the initial Bournemouth bluster and concentrate on imposing ourselves and winning the game.
Win this game and suddenly the season gets exciting, an FA Cup semi final and a springboard to win a few League games and be able to stop looking over our shoulder.
Photo: Action Images
Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.
You need to login in order to post your comments
Blogs 31 bloggers
Letters from Wiltshire #45 by wessex_exile
Tonight, Colchester United face Southend United in what may not necessarily be the most important game of our respective histories (though it’s certainly very close), but is almost certainly the most important Essex derby ever. However this season pans out, by the end of it there’ll either be only one team in Essex, or worst case scenario, none at all. If the U’s win, then Southend will be 9pts behind with just three games to go, and a minimum of a -12 goal difference to overturn if they want to overtake us. Certainly mathematically possible, but that would rely on a remarkable turnaround in their form, form that they’ve shown precious little sign of achieving so far this season. The stalking horse is Grimsby, with their game in hand, who have rather belatedly shown an improvement in form, so their match against automatic promotion chasing Morecambe tonight is equally important, particularly if we want to avoid the unthinkable, with both Essex clubs dropping out of the league.
Letters from Wiltshire #44 by wessex_exile
So here we are, as the nation mourns the passing of His Royal Highness, Duke of Edinburgh, the U’s face the first of two season-defining moments, with our late kick-off match at home to Walsall. Before then, no doubt many will have been focused on events elsewhere, not least the early kick-offs for Grimsby (at home to promotion-chasing Bolton Wanderers), and particularly Essex rivals Southend United, who faced a tricky visit to Exeter City – still very much in the hunt for at least a play-off spot. As I finalise this blog, I know that Grimsby have beaten Bolton 2-1, and Southend earned a credible 0-0 draw in the West Country. More to the point, the U’s will know this too. Whilst I can’t help but feel that will ought to be to our advantage, it surely must also put additional pressure on a squad whose confidence is paper-thin. We must hope that Hayden Mullins, assisted by Paul Tisdale, get their heads right, and send the lads out this evening fired up with self-belief.
Letters from Wiltshire #43 by wessex_exile
Well, that has been a lively week for Colchester United in the press, and not least for Robbie Cowling, with not one, or two, but kind of three club announcements in rapid succession to try and put the record straight. First, we had Tribunalgate, which certainly looked very poor according to the initial press reports, but which on closer inspection when some of the ‘fact gaps’ were filled in wasn’t anywhere near the story that some would have us believe. Then of course we had the ‘leak’ that the U’s were about to go into administration, despite all the reassurances we’d been given in previous statements from Robbie. Not so said Robbie again, and particularly angry at what he believed to be the source of the story. Hence statement #3, repeating his assurances, but this time after passing through the lawyer filter to remove his thoughts on the source. To paraphrase Robbie’s conclusion to that statement, let’s hope we can all have a day off from this sort of media shenanigans and enjoy our game at Oldham tonight!
Letters from Wiltshire #42 by wessex_exile
Well, these sure are strange times at Colchester United, particularly for a club (nor a Chairman) not usually associated with the ‘managerial revolving door’ approach. With results not matching expectations or even minimum requirements, and a brief spell after being appointed Interim Head Coach, Wayne Brown has been released to return to the Jammers, for whenever their pandemic-interrupted football restarts. In comes not one, or two, but three new ‘appointments’. Hayden Mullins steps up as Head Coach to the end of the season, Joe Dunne apparently comes back to the U’s in a sort of unofficial coaching/ team-spirit sort of role, and exceptionally experienced lower-league former Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale arrives to provide Hayden with advice and support – crikey!
Letters from Wiltshire #41 by wessex_exile
This afternoon the U’s take on Bradford City in a bid to gather sufficient points to stay clear of the bottom two. It’ll be a tough gig though, even if (as I suspect) Bradford City have left it a bit too late to challenge the play-off spots. They were on a decent run of form, that is until defeats at Newport, Carlisle, Scunthorpe and a goalless draw at home to Oldham put paid to any lingering promotion hopes. For us, it’s simple, to stay out of the bottom two, for all intents and purposes we only need to gain half (or more) of the points that Grimsby or Southend do. Sounds easy, just wish I felt more confident we will…
[ Vote here ]