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Development Squad

Rivals face-off in crucial Premier League Cup clash


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

AFC Bournemouth’s development squad will lock horns with neighbours Southampton in a rearranged and crucial Premier League Cup showdown on Thursday.

The teams do battle in a behind-closed-doors clash at Southampton’s Staplewood Training Ground with progression to the last 16 very much in the balance (noon kick-off).

Saints were leading 1-0 when the original meeting – staged at AFC Totton’s Snows Stadium in November – was abandoned early in the second half due to fog.

Since then, the Cherries have experienced differing fortunes in the competition, triumphing 4-0 against Group A leaders West Brom and losing by the same scoreline against Arsenal.

It has left Shaun Cooper’s team in third place, four points behind the Gunners with two games remaining for the Cherries – both against Southampton, who visit Vitality Stadium on Friday 11th February.

Second-placed Arsenal travel to West Brom on Valentine’s Day in what will be a shootout for top spot, with the group winners receiving home advantage in the last 16.

To keep alive their hopes of qualifying, the Cherries must avoid defeat against Southampton on Thursday.

They would need to pick up a minimum of four points from their final two games – but even then, that might not be enough.

Four or six points could see Cooper’s team finish second, although goal difference would come into the equation and the Cherries (-2) are currently lagging behind both West Brom (+7) and Arsenal (+2).

The Premier League Cup returned this season having been curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019/20 and not taking place in 2020/21.

Cooper’s team topped Group E in 2019/20 and had been due to host Wigan Athletic in the last 16 before the competition was brought to a premature end.

Current first-team players Jordan Zemura and Gavin Kilkenny were ever present in 2019/20, while Mark Travers, Jaidon Anthony and Zeno Ibsen Rossi started four group matches.

In their first two seasons in the Premier League Cup, the Cherries finished as runners-up in their group, exiting in the knockout stage to Nottingham Forest in 2018/19 and Newcastle in 2017/18.

From 2016/17, the Premier League Cup replaced the Under-21 Premier League Cup which Southampton won in 2014/15 after beating Blackburn Rovers in the final.

Click here for ticket information for the Cherries' Premier League Cup match against Southampton at Vitality Stadium next month.

Click here to read Alan Connell's thoughts ahead of AFC Bournemouth's FA Youth Cup fifth-round clash against Leicester City at Vitality Stadium on Friday.

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