Southampton manager Ronald Koeman expects a true derby atmosphere when AFC Bournemouth visit St Mary’s Stadium on Sunday.
Eddie Howe’s side make the short trip across the south coast looking for only their third Premier League win, while the home side have themselves only managed three victories from their first 10 games.
The two sides last met in March 2011, when Southampton won 3-1 in a crucial League One promotion clash, and they have never faced off in a competitive game outside the third tier of English football.
While the rivalry lacks the edge that Saints share with Portsmouth, Koeman believes his players will consider the clash a “special” one as they aim to close the gap to the top six.
“In my opinion it’s a derby – but maybe not the biggest one, because there’s not a lot of history between both clubs,” he told the club’s YouTube channel.
“I hope that they will stay in the Premier League so that we will get a few years in a row to play against each other.
“Normally, it makes it a little bit easier for the manager because they [the players] have that feeling of it being a derby.
“Everybody will have more attention to the game, and that makes it a little bit more special. You need that to be successful.”
Bournemouth midfielder Harry Arter made his comeback from injury in the League Cup on Wednesday, lasting 71 minutes of the 1-0 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield.
The 25-year-old is now relishing the prospect of Premier League action against a side he remembers facing five seasons ago.
“My main concern was just to come back and try to be a positive influence on the team,” he told BBC Radio Solent. “I am sure the manager will put me back in when he feels that I am completely ready and can do something for the team.
“I know that all of the lads are really looking forward to the game. I was here when we played them in League One and it was a great atmosphere then. For both clubs to now be in the Premier League is a great achievement.”
Shane Long (ankle) and Jay Rodriguez (foot) are unavailable, while Fraser Forster and Florin Gardos (both knee) are long-term absentees for Southampton.
Tommy Elphick (foot) is likely to be out for another month for Bournemouth, with Max Gradel, Tyrone Mings and Callum Wilson (all knee) not expected to return until the spring.
Key Opta stats:
– Southampton are unbeaten in their last five league meetings with Bournemouth (W4 D1).
– The Cherries have failed to score on five of their eight visits to Southampton in the league.
– Southampton are unbeaten at home in league competition against Bournemouth, winning six and drawing two.
– Eddie Howe’s side have won just one of their last seven Premier League games, losing four and drawing two.
– Bournemouth have scored in each of their last eight PL games (netting exactly once in six of those matches) – only Leicester (11) and West Ham (10) can better this run.
– Sadio Mane has been directly involved in seven Southampton goals in his last seven appearances (three goals, four assists).