Bournemouth have added quality to their squad this season and will face Southampton on an equal footing when they clash in the Premier League on Sunday, according to Jimmy Case, who played in midfield for both south-coast rivals.
Case, who won three European Cups with Liverpool, spent six seasons with Southampton before moving to Bournemouth in 1991 and making 40 appearances for them.
"What they (Bournemouth) were missing (last season) was the extra bit of real quality. But they've brought in the two loan players, Nathan Ake and Jack Wilshere, which is part of the process you have to go through," Case told the Bournemouth Echo.
"Now they're a very, very good side. Even so, nobody would have expected them to beat Liverpool – that's what they're up against.
"But they're proving a little bit of a point this season."
Although Case said it was tough to pick a winner because both teams are in good from, he acknowledged that Eddie Howe's side had closed the gap on Southampton since winning promotion to the top flight in 2015.
"You can't necessarily say who's bigger," he said. "How do you judge that? It's so, so difficult.
"With the football, though, it is becoming a level playing field."
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)