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Howe named Premier League Manager of the Month

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AFC Bournemouth is picking up some accolades for its impressive run in January.

The club was unbeaten in Premier League action, with two wins and two draws, leading to manager Eddie Howe being named Premier League Manager of the Month. The last of the club’s wins in January was a night many in Bournemouth will never forget, as the Cherries slammed the door shut on the defending Premier League champions with a 3-0 win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

[READ: Arsenal’s Wenger played to his advantages in Swedish blowout]

Bournemouth’s 4-1 clobbering at Huddersfield Town broke a streak of seven games unbeaten in the league, which has seen the Cherries rise to tenth in the table. Incredibly, because of the top-down nature in the Premier League this season, Bournemouth are only five points clear of the relegation zone.

Adam Smith reveals referee apologized for incorrect penalty decision

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A contentious moment in the 1-1 draw between Bournemouth and Southampton has resulted in a refereeing controversy.

In the first half, with Bournemouth dominating the match but the game still scoreless, Adam Smith went down in the box under a heavy challenge from Sofiane Boufal. The replay showed Smith clearly get to the ball first before Boufal made heavy contact with Smith’s feet, but instead of a penalty given, match referee Jon Moss gave Smith a yellow card for diving.

[ RECAP: Bournemouth and Southampton share the spoils ]

The yellow card is Smith’s fifth of the season, meaning he will miss Bournemouth’s next match on the road against Crystal Palace.

After the match, Smith called the decision “disappointing,” and then when pressed further by the post-match interviewer, revealed he received an apology from the referee for an incorrect decision.

“I’ve kind of jumped to go over it and then he’s took me down,” Smith said after the match, “so for the ref to book me is disappointing, and it doesn’t help because that’s my fifth booking now and I miss the next game, so I’m not sure if they can rescind it or not but that’s very disappointing.”

“I spoke to him [the referee] after and he apologized and said it was a penalty. I don’t mind him admitting it, but the fact that he’s booked me as well and it’s probably not going to get rescinded is disappointing because I’m going to miss the next game.”

The decision sparked debate between NBC studio analysts Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle, with Mustoe claiming it was a clear penalty, while Earl countered that Smith’s overreaction and intent to dive before the contact arrived warranted the caution for diving.

WATCH LIVE: Bournemouth vs. Southampton

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A pair of teams in the bottom half are desperately looking for points to keep themselves out of a potential relegation battle as Southampton travels to Turf Moor to take on Bournemouth at 8:30 a.m. ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

Junior Stanislas is recalled for Bournemouth for his first action in over two months after recovering from a groin injury, replacing Jordon Ibe. Meanwhile, for Southampton, Nathan Redmond is dropped to the bench just days after his postmatch run-in with Pep Guardiola, with Jeremy Pied making his Premier League debut at right-back over a year and a half after joining Southampton from French side Nice.

[ WATCH LIVE: Bournemouth vs. Southampton ]

Bournemouth especially will look to get points from this home game, as they are just four off the relegation zone and have a grueling schedule on the horizon with games against Manchester United, Liverpool, and Manchester City all coming up before Christmas. Southampton put up a valiant effort against City last time out, losing on Raheem Sterling‘s last-gasp effort, but that performance will still give them confidence moving forward as they can potentially jump into the top half of the table with a win.

The Cherries will not have history on their side when this game kicks off, as they’ve won just once in their last eight matches against Southampton. They also have not performed well in front of the home fans this season, with the second-worst Premier League home record to Swansea with four losses in seven matches.

LINEUPS

Bournemouth: Begovic, Smith, Francis, Ake, Daniels, L. Cook, Surman, Stanislas, Fraser, King, Defoe.
Subs: Boruc, Cook, Gosling, Pugh, Ibe, Wilson, Afobe.

Southampton: Forster, Pied, Hoedt, Van Dijk, Bertrand, Davis, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Tadic, Boufal, Austin.
Subs: McCarthy, Yoshida, Targett, Lemina, Hojbjerg, Redmond, Gabbiadini.

Eddie Howe reacts to Bournemouth climbing out of drop zone

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Now that tiny Bournemouth is back out of the drop zone, perhaps we’ll begin to hear Eddie Howe‘s name in managerial switch rumors again?

[ RECAP: Newcastle 0-1 Bournemouth ]

Joking aside, the Cherries rebounded from a poor first half to get a big three away points at Newcastle United when Steve Cook nodded in a stoppage time goal.

It should’ve been 1-0 well before that — and Newcastle can argue the same considering Dwight Gayle‘s razor-thin first half goal was called offside — as Callum Wilson missed a straight-forward finish and Marc Pugh had one cleared off the line.

But it finished 1-0, and the Cherries are two points clear of the red line going into the international break. That will help the Bournemouth men relax a bit, and could set their table for the rest of the season. Here’s Howe, from the BBC:

“It’s a huge win. We were second best in the first half but we upped our game. We should have sealed the game earlier, we haven’t been clinical enough all season but we got the points we deserved in the end.

“Back-to-back away wins are huge, our record has not been good. You need to know that you can win anywhere. It sets us up nicely, being out of the bottom three before the break.”

With Huddersfield, Swansea, Burnley, and Southampton ahead, there’s a clear route to a few more points and some safe feelings before December. Can Howe keep his men running? If the past is prologue, Saturday can be a mile marker for the Cherries.

Premier League Preview: Bournemouth vs. Chelsea

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  • Chelsea leads all-time 6W-2L
  • Cherries last beat Blues 12/5/15
  • Kante out for Chelsea

Antonio Conte is fired up for Saturday’s trip to Bournemouth, and the Cherries can thank the gossip pages for motivating the Chelsea manager (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

Not that Chelsea would’ve been overlooking anyone after last week’s defeat of Watford snapped a two-match losing streak for the reigning champions.

[ PL PREVIEW: Man Utd vs. Spurs ]

Eddie Howe‘s Cherries will be hoping to use a rare win, Saturday’s 2-1 victory at Stoke City, to propel themselves to fine performance and a trip outside the drop zone.

Bournemouth won’t have Josh King but could have Jermain Defoe back in the fold. Chelsea will not have N'Golo Kante.

What they’re saying

Bournemouth’s Howe on drawing Chelsea in League Cup quarters“It’s not the cup draw we wanted, but we can’t complain or moan. It’s a great challenge to take on Chelsea in the quarters,” he said. I’ve spoken to Antonio Conte. He’s very passionate and knowledgeable. It’s fascinating to talk football with him. Watford were good and Chelsea were good last weekend. Chelsea showed their strength and character to grind out a win.”

Chelsea’s Conte on Alvaro Morata’s downturn in form“If you remember before the international break he was injured, also after 20 minutes in the City game, and against Crystal Palace he didn’t play. I think we have to consider this. I’m happy with Alvaro’s commitment and his performance. Tomorrow he has another opportunity. For me, it is not important for the striker to score but it is important for them to play well and play for the team.”

Prediction

Bournemouth has been better at home, like most teams, but will Chelsea be too stiff of a test. Both teams played midweek and the Blues’ depth is undoubtedly better. Chelsea, 2-0.

Follow @NicholasMendola