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Southampton-Bournemouth Preview


Southampton blew a vital opportunity to bolster their European hopes and now must rectify that slip-up in Tuesday night's short trip to the Vitality Stadium to face Bournemouth in a matchup of the Premier League's South Coast clubs.

The Saints blew a second-half lead in Saturday's 2-1 defeat to Chelsea. Shane Long put them ahead before halftime, and they extended their Premier League franchise-record shutout streak to 628 minutes before conceding in the 75th and 89th.

"I think we played well in the first half, we made the 1-0. We really had a good moment in the first half before half-time, we had good defending," boss Ronald Koeman said. "Second half, maybe we had more problems to keep the ball in our team."

Fraser Forster had posted six straight clean sheets since returning from a serious knee injury before his goal was breached.

"It's nice for Fraser but finally we lose the game, it's 2-1 and that's the disappointment that we have," Koeman said.

The news got worse Sunday for Southampton (11-7-9) when Manchester United beat Arsenal 3-2 to move onto 44 points in fifth place. Koeman's side fell into seventh, also behind West Ham United, on 40.

Long was substituted in the 69th minute with a hamstring issue so his status for this match is unclear, with Graziano Pelle coming on. Long has seven goals and Pelle six.

Koeman paired Long up front with Charlie Austin, who made his first start with the Saints in a partnership that combined for four shots.

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"He (Austin) was working well," Koeman said. "I think both players in the first half did a good job of making it difficult for the defenders of Chelsea."

The Saints won the reverse fixture 2-0 at home Nov. 1 on first-half strikes by Steven Davis and Pelle while surviving a late red card to Victor Wanyama.

Bournemouth (7-8-12) boosted their hopes of staying in the top flight for the second straight campaign with Saturday's scoreless draw against fellow newboys Watford. The Cherries avoided a third straight defeat, although they felt they deserved more after edging the possession and finishing with more shots on target.

"Any point away from home is a good point," manager Eddie Howe told Bournemouth's official website. "But we're disappointed on reflection, I felt we were the dominant side and their goalkeeper had another great game against us."

Two golden chances fell to substitute Max Gradel, who returned for his first action since rupturing knee ligaments in August. The Ivorian's return is a huge boost to a club that remains without long-term casualty Callum Wilson, the top goal scorer with five.

"It was a really good appearance and he (Gradel) was unlucky not to get a goal, he's a player that makes things happen and we were pleased to welcome him back," Howe said. "Him being back round the squad has given everyone a lift."

Gradel entered in the 23rd minute for Junior Stanislas, who left with a hamstring injury and is uncertain for Tuesday.

The Cherries are 15th on 29 points - five above the drop.

Southampton have five wins and a draw in their last six meetings with Bournemouth, as the two sides are separated by about 40 kilometres. They have met only 22 total times since they have rarely been in the same division, and the rivalry has been dubbed the "New Forest derby," though that moniker really hasn't been popularised in English football.