Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe is not taking Premier League survival for granted ahead of crucial games against Newcastle United and Swansea City.
The Cherries moved onto 32 points following the midweek home win against Southampton, putting them eight clear of Sunderland, Norwich City and Newcastle, with Aston Villa cast adrift at the foot of the table.
However, Howe knows that cushion could swiftly be wiped out should they fail to produce the required performances in key matches ahead – first away at St James’ Park on Saturday and then at home to Swansea, who are a place below them in 16th.
“When you win naturally there is that little bounce and good feeling. The important thing, though, is we look forward and don’t just rest with that,” Howe said at his press conference on Friday.
“The message from me is very much for more and keep the past two performances in the forefront of our minds, because I thought we have been excellent, even though we did not win at Watford.
“An eight-point cushion is not enough because we are well aware that fortunes can change.
“Last week it was four points and now it is eight, but it can change the other way very quickly if you don’t perform yourself, so we need to take care of our business.
“I am not concerned with other results, it really doesn’t matter because you can’t control it, so why waste emotion and energy getting wrapped up with other teams? Just focus on your own team and making sure we are as best prepared as we can be.”
Howe continued: “Every game takes on huge significance now because you are running out of time to get the points you need.
“We don’t want to leave point collecting to the last few games, we want to get the job done as early as we can.
“These next two games we are playing against teams around us, and added the eight after that, they will define our season.”
Newcastle have lost four of their last five but have lost only once in the last eight Premier League games at home, so Howe will not be expecting an easy ride on the long trip up to the north east.
“I have watched several games in preparation and they have performed well. The West Brom game (1-0 win on February 6) was a particular highlight where they were excellent, I felt,” Howe said.
“Their crowd will certainly get behind them and they have good players, a lot of international players with vast experience, so we do not underestimate the size of our task.
“If they get their game right, then it will be a tough game for us to win, but we have seen when we perform at our very best level, then we are also a very tough team to beat.”