Bournemouth’s caretaker manager Gary O’Neil has been delighted by the Cherries’ competitive spirit during their six-match unbeaten run, which the hosts will look to extend against Southampton on Wednesday.

Since O’Neil replaced Scott Parker in the dugout on the South Coast, Bournemouth have posted two wins and four draws, and they sit in the top half of the Premier League table ahead of the midweek fixtures.

Speaking ahead of Bournemouth’s meeting with Ralph Hasenhuttl’s team, O’Neil said: “What I have said from the start is the boys need to give a certain level of performance in every moment of every game, and they have given that.

“Results can be defined by small margins and decisions, but if you perform in a certain way you give yourself the chance to be competitive.

“That is what has pleased me the most – we have been competitive in every game.”

By contrast, Southampton are in the relegation zone, winning just two of their 10 league games this season to leave Hasenhuttl under pressure.

The Saints’ dire defensive record has limited their ability to pick up points this campaign; Southampton have conceded 18 goals in their 10 Premier League games, failing to keep a single clean sheet.

Hasenhuttl called on Southampton to replicate Bournemouth’s improved run of form as he rued a series of defensive mistakes, saying: “You need this one-time or maybe two-time run during the season, which can be an insurance for staying in the league.

“You have seen this from us over the last four years. Now we must build up a consistency.

“We have been close to clean sheets, conceding once in several matches, but not scoring enough ourselves.

“We are definitely not happy that we have not had a clean sheet so far, but we are not far away from it.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Bournemouth – Philip Billing

Bournemouth’s versatile midfielder Billing has scored three Premier League goals this season – more than any of his team-mates, and his tally of four goal involvements is only bettered by Dominic Solanke (five). He will likely be key to Bournemouth’s bid to maintain their strong form.

Southampton – Gavin Bazunu

Southampton are the only team yet to keep a clean sheet in the Premier League this season, and have conceded in each of their last 16 league matches. Hasenhuttl’s men need to end that run soon, and will require Bazunu to excel between the sticks.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Bournemouth have won just two of their 10 Premier League games against Southampton (D4 L4), winning 2-0 at home in March 2016 and 3-1 away in September 2019.

– Of the 12 clubs to have played 100+ Premier League games against promoted sides, Southampton have the lowest win rate (43 per cent), winning 58 of their 134 meetings (D33 L43).

– Southampton have conceded at least once in each of their last 19 Premier League away games. Only once have they had a longer run without a clean sheet on the road in their top-flight history, going 21 away games without a shutout between September 1988 and September 1989.

– Bournemouth’s Dominic Solanke has been directly involved in five goals in eight Premier League appearances this season (two goals, three assists), one more than he registered in his previous campaign in the top-flight in 2019-20 in 32 games (three goals, one assist).

– Bournemouth have yet to lose under caretaker manager Gary O’Neil (W2 D4), and if they avoid defeat in this match they will equal their longest unbeaten run in the Premier League (seven games in February 2018).