Saturday 16 December 2017

Howe grounded after Cherries stride towards safety

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe. Photo: PA
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe. Photo: PA Newdesk

Bournemouth have almost guaranteed their Premier League survival but manager Eddie Howe is not celebrating yet. Steve Cook's late header sealed a 3-2 win over Swansea to move the Cherries on to 38 points - 13 clear of the relegation zone with eight games remaining.

The fans were singing "we're staying up" at the end of Bournemouth's third win in a row, but Dean Court boss Howe was not counting his chickens just yet.

"The official line is that nothing is decided today," he said. "We have put ourselves in a good position, but we still have work to do. There are so many games to go that you can't predict what will be needed.

"What good would saying 'we are safe' do? We have a number of games still to play against some very good teams. Our players need the same mentality that they have had all season.

"We can't relax at all - if we do we'll get punished. But we are certainly in a very good position and I'm very pleased with the players and how they have conducted themselves this season."

Goals from Max Gradel and Josh King twice put Bournemouth ahead, only for Modou Barrow and Gylfi Sigurdsson to peg them back.

But Swansea could not recover a third time after defender Cook nodded home Matt Ritchie's cross with 12 minutes remaining.

Meanwhile, Ronald Koeman hopes Graziano Pelle can fire Southampton into Europe next season after the striker brought his four-month barren spell to a close with a match-winning brace at Stoke.

The Italian arrived in Staffordshire having not scored since November 1, but he followed up a on header from a Steven Davis corner by beating Jack Butland again on the half-hour mark in a performance which was reminiscent of his early-season form.

Dusan Tadic's dithering in front of goal, Marko Arnautovic's reply for Stoke and substitute Sadio Mane's harsh red card late on did not take the spotlight away from Pelle, who moved into double figures for Saints this term in a 2-1 victory that moved them up to seventh.

"If we like to keep fighting for European football then we need the front players in a good shape and scoring goals," Koeman said. "That's a big impact for the team."

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