As we move deep into December which is usually a pivotal time of year for all our Premiership clubs. This weekend sees a full list of fixtures with a Friday night tie live on BBC between Glenavon and Coleraine.
The TV cameras will be live at Mourneview for this one. Coleraine travel to Lurgan to face Gary Hamilton’s Glenavon side who have been struggling for some consistency recently. A disappointing defeat last week at the hands of Cliftonville ‘Hammy’ will be demanding a reaction. News broke this week that they have agreed a fee with Port Vale for talented midfielder Mark Sykes. A question mark remains whether he shall feature this weekend.
Very like Glenavon recently Coleraine have also been struggling for some form of consistency. After an extremely impressive display at Windsor Park defeating Linfield 2-1 three weeks ago, the Bannsiders then lost at home to Newry live on BBC. McAree’s men got back to winning ways last weekend at home to Ards and he will be demanding more from his players this Friday night again.
Linfield travel to Co. Down this weekend for a 1PM kick off against Newry City. Newry have found their feet in the Premiership and are starting to pick up a few important points. They were denied last weekend at Dungannon by a late Paul McElroy goal. Darren Mullen will set his team out in a defensive manner I would imagine this weekend to try and combat a dominate Linfield side.
The Blues find themselves in a good grain of form after demolishing Crusaders last weekend at Windsor Park. They have also reached the League Cup final after defeating Dungannon in extra time on Tuesday evening. With that game going to extra time on Tuesday David Healy may make a few changes this Saturday to freshen the team. I am expecting a Linfield win here.
Colin Nixon’s Ards sit rock bottom of the Premiership table and are in a real relegation dog fight. With no win in seven games they will be desperate to try and turn this record around. Coming into a busy festive period Ards will be determined to try and get a few points on the board and reel in a few clubs who are above them. However, that will be no easy task against the reds.
Cliftonville travel to Bangor following two impressive home wins over Glenavon and Dungannon. That being said their away form is a bit of a concern for Barry Gray. The North Belfast club have not win away since the 27th of October when they defeated Coleraine 2-1. A record they are more than capable of changing this weekend in Bangor.
High flying Ballymena look unstoppable! Top of the league and with 11 consecutive wins in all competitions they are the team on everyone’s lips currently. David Jeffrey has installed a real sense of belief and character in this Ballymena side. Can they go all the way? There is no reason why the cannot! They face an Institute side this week who were called Northern Ireland’s very own Barcelona after last week!
Stute are playing with a real sense of confidence and are not scared to get it down and play regardless of the opposition. Paddy McLaughlin can be very proud of his players and the way they have went about their business so far back in the Premiership. They desperately need a win after shipping late goals in recent weeks to deny them of three points. A tough ask here at the showgrounds for the Drumahoe men.
A very tough week for current champions Crusaders. The Hatchetmen suffered an embarrassing 4-1 defeat to Linfield and also got knocked out of the league cup midweek at the hands of Ballymena. Stephen Baxter will be demanding an immediate response from his players before their title challenge slips even further away. A game I fancy the Crues to bounce back with a victory following the Swifts going to extra time midweek.
Dungannon put in a massive shift on Tuesday night in the League Cup against Linfield. Kris Lindsay will now being eyeing picking up points in the league to climb the table and pull clear of a relegation battle. A tough game however and with their fixture midweek going to extra time on Tuesday I am going for a Crues win here.
The Glens really find themselves stuck in a rut. They currently sit in seventh position and are just six points off a relegation place! That really is no where near good enough for a club like Glentoran. This is a game the East Belfast club should be picking up all three points in but with no win in nine games the task looks more difficult than ever.
‘The Point’ travel to the Oval after finding some form of late. They have only lost once in their last seven games. That defeat came at the hands of current leaders Ballymena. Stephen McDonnell’s men defeated Portadown midweek and booked themselves a place in the Mid-Ulster cup final. A massive game for both clubs as only three points separate them in the table!