Bournemouth survived a second half onslaught from Southampton to come away with their first Premier League win in five attempts at St Mary’s Stadium. Nathan Ake headed home from a corner after 10 minutes to give Bournemouth the lead, before Harry Wilson added a second after 35 minutes. James Ward-Prowse slotted home a penalty shortly after half time, leading to Southampton dominating the play for the remainder of the match. However, a stoppage time mix up at the back allowed Callum Wilson to poke home into an empty net, and send Bournemouth home with three points.
Southampton switched back to four at the back, with Cedric slotting in on his unfavoured left side, and Kevin Danso returning at right back. Moussa Djenepo missed out through injury, however Nathan Redmond returned as a straight swap. Although the graphic shows a 4-2-2-2 formation, this was often a 4-3-3, with Boufal and Redmond drifting wide.
Bournemouth made one change from the win over Everton, with Jefferson Lerma replacing Lewis Cook, who is still being managed on his way back from a long term injury.
Southampton looked to press Bournemouth from the outset, opting to try and make them go long where Vestergaard and Bednarek were dominant in the air. The attempts to press high are shown by the ball recoveries made in the first half, of which a high proportion were made in Bournemouth’s half. The press was effective when Southampton were able to pick up the second balls, however the high press left Southampton very vulnerable when Bournemouth were able to play around it, and were opened up on a number of occasions in the first half as a result.
Bournemouth were able to pick Southampton off effectively in the first half, and their new look formation has been key to this. Lining up 4-4-2, the attacking balance worked perfectly. Callum Wilson led the line, looking to occupy the two centre halves, who’s lack of pace behind caused them to drop deep. This left space in front of the defence, which Dominic Solanke dropped into and looked to link the play. Out wide, Harry Wilson and Joshua King were electrifying on the break, looking to make the most of the Southampton’s full backs positioning, who were being used as the wide attacking outlet by Hasenhuttl.
The influence maps from the first half reinforce this (above), and explain why Josh King had so much joy down the left side. Kevin Danso was often caught higher up the pitch, and Redmond’s positioning centrally left them very exposed. Bournemouth’s heat map from the first half (below) emphasises just how much play went through this channel in the first half, and it was no surprise to see the second goal come through that avenue, as well as a disallowed goal.
The exposure is demonstrated from the disallowed goal below, as Southampton were caught out when losing the ball high up the pitch, allowing Bournemouth to break at pace. Danso had pressed forward, and this allowed King to slip in behind. Finishing well, he was unfortunate to be flagged offside, however the problems didn’t stop there for Southampton down that flank.
Harry Wilson’s narrow positioning was also key to Bournemouth’s joy in the first half, as it made him particularly hard to pick up for Southampton’s full backs. As he drifted inside, Cedric was often left with a decision whether to go with him, or whether to leave him for a midfielder or defender to pick up. This movement led to Bournemouth’s second goal, as shown below.
Left 3v2 in the box, Harry Wilson (edge of the box) had drifted inside, with Solanke adding an overload at the back post. As a result, Cedric left Wilson to run inside, and Vestergaard reacted too late to stop the cross. He slotted home well at the near post, as Bournenouth went into the second half 2-0 up.
It was a tale of two halves, and fundamental to the shift in momentum was down to Hasenhuttl’s decision to substitute Danso and replace him with Ryan Bertrand, allowing Cedric to move over to his preferred right back position. The influence maps below show the shift in positioning in the second half, as Southampton forced Bournemouth onto the back foot.
Key to this was the control the midfielders offered in the second half, retaining the ball much better, as well as forcing Bournemouth into more mistakes on the ball when pressing high. The two centre halves opted to play higher and condense the space when in possession, and Bournemouth subsequently struggled to find Solanke and Callum Wilson in the second half with their long balls out when forced against the press. The two sides pass maps highlight this, with Bournemouth only completing 69 passes in the second half, whilst only retaining 30% possession, as they were forced back by Southampton.
The Southampton penalty was won as a result of Bournemouth being caught out when losing the ball in Southampton’s half, allowing a quick counter attack from Southampton. Che Adams found space where Stacey had pushed on, and this isolated centre back Cook 1v1.
He was able to dribble into the box before being fouled, allowing Ward-Prowse to score the penalty. Bournemouth reacted to this by dropping deeper, with their full backs being encouraged to press on less. As shown by the influence maps above, Rico and Stacey were forced very deep in the second half, as Southampton focussed a lot of their attacks out wide.
Southampton continued to press, and managed 17 shots in the game to Bournemouth’s 4, racking up an xG of 2.62 (inc a pen), compared to Bournemouth’s 1.29. Although this is promising in terms of chance creation, it highlights the need for Southampton to start taking their chances, as Che Adams has now gone six games without a goal. Southampton’s chance creation map is shown below, highlighting just how many opportunities they had.
The third goal flattered Bournemouth, who relied heavily on Josh King’s pace out left as their only effective outlet in the second half. As Cedric pushed on, he would stay high when he could and allow Bournemouth to stretch Southampton, highlighted by his willingness to run on the ball, shown by his 6 completed take-ons in the match. Unlucky not to win a penalty, he was deservedly given Man of the Match by SkySports, as he shines in the left wing role.
Southampton improved in the second half, however the damage was done by poor defending and tactical shape in the first. Bournemouth move up to 3rd in the table with 10 points, facing a trip to Burton in the Carabao Cup in midweek. Southampton have a mouth-watering South Coast Derby to contend with on Tuesday, as they welcome Portsmouth to St Marys, hoping to bounce back from this disappointing defeat.