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Monday, 17 December, 2018

Austin's scoring powers could be the difference

Southampton striker can hurt Bournemouth

Southampton striker Charlie Austin
1 of 1

Premier League
Sky Sports Premier League, 1.30pm Sunday

Charlie Austin's goalscoring powers have been saved for this trip to Bournemouth and the Southampton striker can benefit from his midweek rest to help pick off the Cherries.

Cautious Saints boss Mauricio Pellegrino does not not need a second invitation to go on the back foot and he picked a defensive team for Wednesday's late 2-1 loss at Manchester City, presumably with an eye on unleashing Austin for this perceived easier task.

And if anyone is going to score for shot-shy Saints it looks to be Austin, who was finally given a first league start in last week's win over ragged Everton and bagged twice in the 4-1 success.

It was not enough to keep Austin in the side for the trip to City with Pellegrino preferring the running ability of Shane Long, but the one-time Bournemouth trialist is the man most likely to hit the net.

Austin averages a Premier League goal every 75 minutes this season which is decent going for a side who otherwise refuse to release the handbrake under Pellegrino – an approach that led to Pep Guardiola epic rant at Saints winger Nathan Redmond.

Southampton, with creative forces in Redmond, Sofiane Boufal and Dusan Tadic in their ranks, should be capable of more but it is difficult to be bullish about their chances of winning as they have triumphed only four times this season.

Three of those were at home – against West Ham, West Brom and Everton – and the sole away win came against a Crystal Palace team who were in a terrible state at the time.

They have not scored more than once away from home all season but this is also likely to be Austin's first road start.

Bournemouth, two points worse off than Saints, have had an extra day to prepare for the match and should have more in the tank given that Southampton were pushed to the limit by City before the Premier League leaders won the match in injury-time.

However, there is no great consistency in their play and Eddie Howe seems to be struggling to find his best 11, constantly changing his wide players and also looking for the right combinations up front.

Howe's side were deservedly beaten by Burnley on Tuesday and their home wins this season have come against promoted outfits Brighton and Huddersfield. In both of those games they also started slowly.

Between them these sides have been victorious only eight times in 28 Premier League games and those desperate for a bet on the result are pointed towards the draw.

C Austin first goalscorer
1pt 11-2 general

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Team news
Junior Stanislas needs to be assessed. Brad Smith and Tyrone Mings are out.

Cedric Soares is out and Shane Long is doubtful.

Key stat
Southampton have kept only one clean sheet in their last nine matches.

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If anyone is going to score for shot-shy Saints it looks to be Austin
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