AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe believes his team are in better shape than when they faced Southampton earlier in the season.
The Cherries lost 2-0 at St Mary’s in early November, but will have hopes of earning a better result when the sides meet at Vitality Stadium tonight.
Howe is confident that his 15th-placed side are a stronger outfit now than they were back then.
“Taking away the fact we’re playing Southampton, and looking at that game individually, I would say we’re in better shape than we were earlier in the season and that’s only because we’ve been in the league longer and have become accustomed to it,” he told reporters at his pre-match press conference.
“I think there’s no surprises anymore. I think the players believe they’re equal to the other teams.
“But you still have to perform, and we’ve seen in recent games when we play well we have a chance and if we don’t play well we usually get beaten, so it’s very much in our hands.”
Howe added: “It’s an important game for our supporters and I think it’s important we go into this game not wanting to let them down and to just perform at our highest levels.
“Southampton have done really well. They’ve just recently come off a very good run where they were winning games and playing very consistently.
“They have a very good squad and rotate it well for certain games. They are very well coached and managed and tactically a good side, so it will be a good test for us.”