Ahead of this weekend's trip to St Mary's, Bournemouth Echo journalist Paul McNamara gives us the lowdown on AFC Bournemouth.
What has the form been like since the sides met at Vitality Stadium in December?
The game at Bournemouth was the start of a bit of a downward turn as they went into it on a real high as it was soon after the 4-3 win over Liverpool.
After that defeat, Eddie Howe said he felt he should have used his squad differently in what was a busy period. They lost at Chelsea on Boxing Day before winning on New Year’s Eve before a period without a win.
But they went to Manchester United last month and got a brilliant draw with ten men, which was richly deserved because of the way they applied themselves and they’ve kicked on with two massive home wins.
They’ve come out that tricky spell now, they’re in a good run of form and they’re probably as confident as they’ve been at any time this season.
Has the attractive style of play been sacrificed at all due to a need for results?
The style hasn’t changed but what has changed is the formation. With Jack Wilshere going out the team they’ve started to play Benik Afobe and Josh King up front so they have a bit more presence.
It requires the midfielders to do an immense amount of work but with the open, expansive play, Eddie Howe has always been clear he would never abandon that.
You speak to the players as well as they would say the same. The manager takes the view that if all of a sudden he asks them to start doing something different they would question that.
All credit to him because he never has despite people maybe looking quizzically when results aren’t going as well.
Which players have been key in recent weeks?
Since Callum Wilson has been injured, Josh King has gone up front and that’s his favoured position. He’s really taken his chance and been excellent lately.
He scored two away at Everton which was a highlight on a tough afternoon but his most complete performance was when he scored a hat-trick against West Ham.
Another player who has been doing really well is the man alongside him in Benik Afobe. It’s not neccesarily shown in the goals he’s scored but he took the fight to West Ham, running in behind and causing all sorts of problems.
If he’s fit, Ryan Fraser has been in fantastic form leading to his first Scotland call but he got injured on international duty. He’s started to impose himself on the side having being a substitute earlier in the campaign.
How important is this game in the context of Bournemouth’s season?
I think the general feeling now is everyone wants to start looking up the table again. I said that before the game in December and it’s probably the same again because if they can win then they’re on 36 points which gives them a bit of breathing space.
It’s a massive game because if they lose it then a few teams below them win they might start to get a bit edgy and they’ve got three tough games coming up after it.