We spoke to Bournemouth fan Peter Humphrey to check in on our neighbours ahead of Tuesday night's big game.
St. Mary's Musings: What did you make of the game at St. Mary's?
Peter Humphrey: I've never seen a game of two halves like the one at St. Mary's. We were woeful in the first and the concern was drifting about that thing were only going to get worse, not better. Then the second half happened. Eddie made some subs and though we did not score, we were much improved, without maybe never looking a genuine scoring threat. The return of Harry Arter in that game was huge.
SMM: What are your thoughts on your season since then? Will you stay up?
PH: The season since then has stabilized and improved dramatically. Whilst we've gone a bit off the boil in the last few games, a draw at Watford was a big one. Everyone knows about the big wins against Chelsea and Manchester United. Arter's return has seen us adopt a five man midfield, shoring us up somewhat and allowing he and Gosling to alternate between being the flair players behind the sole striker.
While we can still be flimsy in defence and have our moments (like most teams), we're an improved side, injuries have slowly subsided, the team has got more used to the league and things are a lot more positive than they were during HT at St. Mary's on that Sunday evening.
SMM: How have Bournemouth fans reacted to the first game? Do you feel there is a bit more of a rivalry brewing now the first is done? There were plenty of reports of both fans causing trouble.
PH: We did not react well, but that was more because of the manner of the first half performance, which many at the club called one of the worst performances under Howe.
The rivalry thing, I gave my opinion on that last time. Both fans were at it, I was behind a lad getting pushed around by a bunch of Saints fans and if I recall, one of our fans was punched violently in the head in a sneak attack outside the ground. If I'm right, none of our fans were quite at that sort of viscous level and in general, things went off alright. The rivalry is based on locality and the league to most, that's about it. I think Bournemouth fans are just peeved at a lot of Saints fans constant need to tell us they don't care.
SMM: What do you think about Eddie Howe and how he's faring in his debut Premier League season?
PH: Howe's done a good job. He's stuck to his principles by and large. Everyone was telling him to change, but he did not listen to the pundits or our idiot fans thankfully. He stayed true and it has worked. The one main issue me and some other fans have is probably recruitment.
Our recruitment, whilst exciting, was quite lopsided. We have needed another topclass CB for a while and perhaps another central midfield option, going back further than just this January. The failure to do something in that regard yet spend 7mil on Grabban with better options already in the team was a bit of a staggering, and I think panicked decision. I have faith this will be solved in the summer, though, I hope.
When mostly fit, we have a very strong squad but we do need another option in the areas mentioned just to ensure we don't have to change our best RB to CB and lose a lot through it like we have. Matt Ritchie, whilst still good, has struggled since losing Francis and having to do a lot more work protecting the defensively poor Adam Smith. All in all though, a positive season for Howe, whatever happens. He's shown he has a strong will, a great mind and a knowing of what direction he wants to go in. That's one thing we have above most others toward the bottom of the league who seem to be aimlessly sailing toward relegation.
SMM: Will we be seeing Artur Boruc at Dean Court? How is he getting on at Bournemouth?
PH: You will be seeing Boruc. He's come back strong after the Tottenham debacle, so real credit to him. He's saved us points. I'd still suggest there are better options out there, but I think that is why we've only given him a year. I'd not be shocked if he's not retained as Federici is on a longer contract and we have been linked with other keepers. You can't take away the success he's brought us though and if I had the chance, I'd probably keep him ahead of Federici.
SMM: What Bournemouth player should Saints be wary of and why?
PH: I would probably say Benik Afobe, considering Max Gradel is likely not going to start and may only get ten minutes. I think getting him ready to start at Newcastle will be the main goal of this week.
Afobe has had an average couple of games but knows where the goal is and has picked up how we play so well already. An in-form Afobe with Gradel and Ritchie supplying is an exciting prospect. I'd also suggest Charlie Daniels at LB is looked out for. For me, the in-form English LB this year and one of the best in the division. He has been immense.
SMM: Are there any Southampton players you're wary of as a Bournemouth fan?
PH: I'm not overly concerned about an individual Saints player. Perhaps Ward-Prowse for his pendancy for set piece deliveries and the fact we can be very soft in that area, but I think Saints strength, like ours, is the collective rather than the individuality of one player. We really need to be on guard because it could get messy if we have one of those games where the defenders decide its time to throw in a Sunday League performance.
SMM: If you could sell any Bournemouth player from your regular starting XI, who would it be and why?
PH: Probably Adam Smith. Harsh perhaps, but he is the weak link, an attacking wingback being forced to play RB against some of the best players in the country and the world. He's had the odd good performance, but defensively is just not up to scratch. He can go down easily and tends to get caught the wrong side and Ritchie's had to do a hell lot more work with him than he ever did with Francis. Combine this with the fact he is double-marked and it really takes something away from how we play down the right side.
SMM: If you could sign any Saints player, who would it be and why?
PH: Any Saints player? Oooohhhhh, good question. I'd probably say Virgil van Dijk. Him alongside Elphick would be perfect, allowing us to release Francis back to RB and giving us an extra body. Ward-Prowse a close second, looks like he can play in midfield, both sitting there and further forward as well as perhaps on the wing and has a wicked right foot on him.
SMM: Finally, what do you think the result will be on Tuesday night?
PH: It's going to be a tough one. I was not confident ahead of the last one but don't know how to judge this. We're due a performance at home and Saturday was encouraging, but we have lost one of our form players through injury and Gradel probably won't start.
A lot hinges on how Afobe plays. As the main striker, he needs to be on form if we're going to do something. I don't think you'll tear us apart, you don't seem to be scoring a truckload of goals so we need to show the same resolute nature we did at the weekend, but also take our chances. Not much to ask considering we struggle with both things periodically! I'll go for a narrow Bournemouth win, 1-0, to continue the fairytale and set us up for the biggest game of the season on Saturday.