Sunday 18 August 2019

Europe not on Eddie Howe's mind as Bournemouth prepare to host Southampton

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe is focused on beating Southampton on Sunday
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe is focused on beating Southampton on Sunday

Manager Eddie Howe will not waste any energy thinking about whether he can take Bournemouth into contention for Europe and is only focused on how to beat Southampton on Sunday.

The Cherries defeated champions Leicester 1-0 at the Vitality Stadium on Tuesday night, which was a third win in five Premier League games and leaves them in 10th place.

Victory over the Saints this weekend would see them not only leapfrog their south-coast rivals, but also move Bournemouth within striking distance of the top six.

Howe, though, is determined to keep everyone grounded, having seen how far the club have come in a short space of time.

"We are back to 10th now and the motivation for us is to try to keep moving up the league," the Bournemouth boss said at a press conference.

"The challenge for me is to improve the team and I have made that very clear all year, our target was to improve on last season.

"I haven't for a second thought about Europe, just about Southampton because we are trying to win this game."

Howe added: "If you can put two or three results together, it can transform your season, but in both ways, so we are mindful of that."

Last season was the first time the two clubs, some 32 miles apart, have met in the top flight, with each winning their respective home games 2-0.

Howe spent most of his playing career with the Cherries when they were battling at the other end of the English football structure.

The Cherries boss believes first and foremost focus should be on delivering another three crucial Premier League points rather than securing any local bragging rights.

"It means a lot, because it is a Premier League game first and foremost - we know the importance of the league, every game is massive, then you add in the factor it is against Southampton, who are a club close to us," said Howe.

"We know the importance of it to the supporters and everyone at the club, but also to our league position, which means everything to us and we are looking to enhance that."

Howe added: "The more games we have between us, the rivalry will develop.

"It is a new thing, we have not been in the Premier League very long and sometimes it takes a bit of time to form those connections.

"Last year there were two contrasting games against them, with great atmospheres."

Bournemouth expect to have forward Callum Wilson available on Sunday after he was taken off towards the end of the Leicester game, where he was a second-half substitute.

Howe said: " Callum had a little bit of blurred vision after the game, so we need to get that checked, but I think he has been given the all clear."

PA Media

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