Two teams who have made very solid starts to the season butt heads when Southampton host Bournemouth in a south coast derby at St Mary’s Stadium on Friday (8pm BST, live on Sky Sports).
Coming into the fixture, the squads have identical records in terms of results and goal difference. Both sit in the top 10, having each accumulated seven points from two wins, one draw and two defeats. They both have a goal difference of -1.
There is, though, a major variation on how they have each arrived at that goal difference. Matches involving Bournemouth have averaged 3.40 goals, the sixth-highest rate in the division. Those involving Southampton have averaged 2.20, the third lowest. That has happened despite the fact that both teams have taken (58) and conceded (73) the exact same number of shots.
A glance at the underlying statistics at this admittedly still very early stage of the campaign suggests that Southampton are the more likely of the teams to sustain their early points accumulation. In terms of expected goals, they have been better than Bournemouth at both ends of the pitch. That is by a smidgen in attack and a fair distance in defence.
It looks as if things are continuing to move in the right direction for Southampton under Ralph Hasenhuttl. His appointment in place of Mark Hughes midway through last season felt like a return to the club’s previous profile of managerial hires: a young, hungry coach with a press-heavy approach more than happy to work with young players.
Last season, Hasenhuttl improved Southampton at both ends of the pitch. Under him, they scored around half a goal more per match than they had under Hughes, whilst also conceding a third of a goal less. All told, that is a difference of over three quarters of a goal per match. There wasn’t quite such a dramatic shift in their underlying numbers, but the general signs were positive and pre-season will have allowed him to further instil his ideas.
Just getting Southampton’s attack to perform at something approaching a league-average level should be sufficient for Hasenhuttl’s side to be well clear of relegation issues and perhaps even push towards the top 10. The large majority of the money they spent this summer went on forwards. One of those signings, Moussa Djenepo, has already scored twice while Sofiane Boufal, returned from last year’s loan to Celta Vigo, has provided a couple of assists.
Southampton aren’t quite there yet but they will still certainly fancy their chances of scoring against a Bournemouth side who had the third-worst defensive record in the Premier League last season. The Cherries have begun the new campaign by conceding nine times in five matches, nearly twice per match.
This is Bournemouth’s fifth consecutive season in the Premier League, all under the management of Eddie Howe. Throughout their top-flight tenure, they have been a streaky side, always ending up somewhere between ninth and 16th (with between 42 and 46 points) but achieving that with a mix of good and bad runs of results. It was the same last season. They were a top-six side through the first 12 matches of the season and a bottom four team thereafter.
Part of the explanation for that inconsistency undoubtedly lies in their open approach. They have been a top-10 attacking team in the Premier League in each of the last three seasons, seventh last time around, as well as a bottom-five defensive team.
In England international Callum Wilson, David Brooks (currently injured), Joshua King and Ryan Fraser, plus this season’s loan addition Harry Wilson, Bournemouth have plenty of attacking talent. However they concede too many goals to think it likely that they will ever take a step forward and compete in the top eight. That is, though, perfectly acceptable. There are worse things to be than a consistently mid-table top-flight team who play attractive football.
Our Preview’s Southampton vs Bournemouth Betting Tips Verdict
This fixture ended in a 3-3 draw last season and it wouldn’t be at all surprising if this year’s running also yields a good amount of goals. It is Southampton who are more likely to emerge victorious at the end of it. So our Southampton vs Bournemouth betting tip for this preview is:
- Bet on ‘Southampton to win & both teams score’ @ best odds of 11/4 with Betfred.
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