LONDON (Reuters) – Southampton’s traditional rivals in English football have been Portsmouth but the south coast is relishing the Premier League’s newest local derby as the Saints prepare to take on Bournemouth on Sunday.
Portsmouth’s descent to the fourth tier amid serious financial problems has coincided with Bournemouth’s equally swift rise to reach the Premier League for the first time in their history.
They began well but have taken only one point from the last four league games and a defeat at St Mary’s could put them in the relegation places.
“There’s not a lot of history between both clubs, but I hope they will stay in the Premier League so that we will get a few years in a row to play against each other,” Southampton’s manager Ronald Koeman told the club’s website (www.saintsfc.co.uk).
“Normally, it makes it a little bit easier for the manager because (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.”
Koeman’s side are unbeaten in their last six games this season in all competitions.
(Reporting by Steve Tongue; editing by Toby Davis)