Football Features

Southampton 1-3 Bournemouth: Five things learned as Cherries break hoodoo

By Harry Edwards

Published: 22:03, 20 September 2019

Bournemouth momentarily moved up to third in the Premier League thanks to a 3-1 win over Southampton.

Nathan Ake and Harry Wilson put the Cherries 2-0 up in the first half, with James Ward-Prowse pulling one back for Southampton. But the win was confirmed in injury time by Callum Wilson.

So, what did we learn?

1. Bournemouth’s set-piece love continues

Against Everton last weekend, Bournemouth proved themselves to be a danger from dead balls, with two of their three goals coming from set piece situations. The first was a corner which was flicked back across goal for Callum Wilson to head in, while Ryan Fraser scored direct from a free-kick.

Given how easy it is to find Premier League highlights nowadays, plus the extensive scouting systems clubs have, there is no way the game would have slipped under Southampton’s radar.

You have to believe Southampton would have been working on defending set pieces throughout the week, but when Bournemouth were awarded their first corner of the game, the Saints fell apart.

But credit must be given to Bournemouth, and Nathan Ake in particular, with the Dutchman beating both Oriol Romeu and Kevin Danso well to get onto the end of Diego Rico’s ball into the box, before connecting with a powerful header.

It’s the fifth goal Bournemouth have scored from set pieces in the Premier League this season, more than any other side.

2. Hasenhuttl needs to start Bertrand

While Bournemouth were impressive, building on their win over Everton, Southampton allowed the Cherries to dominate the first half.

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s arrival in December 2018 was supposed to put Southampton on the right trajectory, moving on from the disaster of Mark Hughes’ reign, eventually pushing Saints up the table.

But after a 16th-placed finish last season, Southampton didn’t look much better than the side which played under Hughes, being comfortably outplayed by Bournemouth in the first half. Southampton were poor in all aspects at St Mary’s, offering very little hope in attack while their defence was cut through with ease.

Hasenhuttl started the evening with a back four, playing Danso out of position at right-back, with Cedric Soares also out of position on the left. For some reason, the Austrian thought it best to leave natural left-back Ryan Bertrand on the bench from the start – and he was made to pay.

Danso had a first half to forget, giving the ball away far too easily and being struggling to deal with Bournemouth’s runners, not to mention his role in the opening goal. Hasenhuttl’s first aims to rectify this led to Jan Bednarek moving to right wing-back and Danso return to his more natural centre-back role in a three-man defence, but that could not prevent Bournemouth adding another goal.

The Austrian finally brought Bertrand on at half-time, switching Cedric over to the right, which shifted something in both defence and attack and within 10 minutes Southampton had a goal back. But as hard as Southampton tried to get the equaliser, the damage had already been done after a disastrous first half.

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3. Bournemouth prove they would be fine without Fraser

Over the summer, Bournemouth fans had to deal with speculation over the future of Ryan Fraser. The Scottish winger had an outstanding campaign in 2018/19, and had been linked with the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool as a result.

This must have had some Bournemouth supporters worrying about what life would be like if Fraser left, with the Scot directly involved in 21 of their 56 Premier League goals last season.

After starting the first four games of the season, recording one assist, Fraser has had to made do with substitute appearances in the past two matches due to injury problems. Against Everton last weekend, Fraser came off the bench to give Bournemouth the lead in the second half, scoring direct from a free-kick – proving his importance.

But on Friday night, Bournemouth showed they don’t need Fraser to win. Yes, the 25-year-old did come off the bench in the second half, but by that time Bournemouth had already scored two goals through Ake and Harry Wilson. It was Wilson and King’s runs down the wings that caused serious problems for Southampton, and Fraser did not add too much when replacing the former.

That doesn’t mean Bournemouth should immediately cash in on Fraser, but it certainly shows that the Scot leaving would not be the end of the world.

4. James Ward-Prowse is Southampton

While the introduction of Bertrand and change in tactics played some role in Southampton’s improved performance after half-time, their chance of gaining a point came through the influence of James Ward-Prowse.

Almost anonymous in the first half, overrun by his Bournemouth counterparts, Ward-Prowse picked himself up very quickly after the break, helping Southampton control.

It was he who scored the penalty less than 10 minutes into the second-half to remind Bournemouth that they were in a game, and he continued to push his side up the pitch for the remaider of the match.

The 24-year-old have a match-high seven shots throughout, more than the entire Bournemouth team combined, but did only hit the target with one. He also created three chances and completed 93% of his passes, but it just wasn’t enough to pull Southampton to a draw.

5. Cherries break Southampton hoodoo

It was a moment 66 years in the making, but Bournemouth have finally beaten Southampton away.

Since the first meeting between Southampton and Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic in November 1953, the Cherries have travelled away to face the Saints on 16 occasions across all competitions. On 15 of those occasions, they had failed to win, drawing six and losing nine.

But finally, at the 16th time of asking, Bournemouth fans will be leaving Southampton with a win, and a vital one too, moving three points clear of their closest Premier League geographical rivals temporarily up to third in the table.