This weekend we have one fixture on Friday night, Coleraine travel to Bangor to face Ards. The remaining five fixtures are the normal time of three o’clock Saturday. The game everyone will have a keen eye on comes at Seaview where Crusaders face league leaders Linfield.
The Friday night game this week comes at Bangor where Ards host The Bannsiders. Ards have had a difficult couple of weeks, getting knocked out of the Irish Cup by Carrick and suffering a heavy defeat to Cliftonville last weekend. With only one win in the league since October and sit bottom of the table they really are in a relegation dog fight. The next month of football could be crucial to Ards season!
Coleraine have started to find some consistency eventually under new manager Rodney McAree. They are unbeaten in their last six games and I cant see them loosing this one! However, in their last two Friday night fixtures results have not been kind to them. Coleraine lost to Newry 1-0 and two Fridays later they were hammered by Glenavon 4-0.
The fixture without doubt everyone will be keeping tabs on! This has the potential to be a mouth watering tie at Seaview on Saturday. A result for both teams could be massive statement for their seasons. Crusaders are unbeaten in seven games and occupy third spot. If they win on Saturday they go level with Linfield on points (Linfield have a game in hand) which could be huge in this seasons title race! The Crues have a shocking record this season against the Blues where they have lost both fixtures so far. They have a fantastic chance on Saturday to put that right and claw back Linfield in the race for the title.
Linfield sit top of the pile and are unbeaten in nine games. They have a chance at the weekend to go six clear of Crusaders with a game in hand which could be a huge statement. David Healy’s side have been by far the better side in the previous two meetings between the two clubs this season. These two will be sick of the sight of each other as they face one another in two cup competitions at the beginning of February also!
A fixture that is impossible to call with both teams being so inconsistent this far. The Swifts have found a patch of form in their last three games registering a draw and two wins. The Co. Tyrone side have dumped Cliftonville out of two cup competitions already this season and will be looking to replicate that form in this league fixture.
Barry Gray’s Cliftonville eventually picked up a much needed three points last Saturday at Ards, after going five games without a single win. The Reds look almost certain to be out of the title race and pressure is mounting on manager Gray. I can see Cliftonville winning this one as Dungannon have not defeated Cliftonville at home since 2008!
Forth place Glenavon play host to second place Ballymena at Mournview this weekend. Glenavon started the season like a house on fire but now find themselves forth and ten points off the top. The Lurgan Blues will be boosted by the arrival of experienced and technically gifted Robert Garrett from Linfield. With no win in five league games Gary Hamilton will be demanding a result here.
Ballymena are keeping up with the pace at the top and are only three points off Linfield on top spot. DJ will be demanding his players remain focused and disciplined to keep going! The last time the two sides met it was Ballymena who came out on top with a 2-1 victory at the Showgrounds.
Glentoran eventually picked up three points last weekend at Institute winning 2-0. Putting an end to a club record of twelve games without a win. The Glens are having a dreadful season and will be aiming to string a few results together to try and pull away from a relegation battle. These sort of games are turning out to be must wins for the Glens!
Newry sit in a relegation play-off place and it may well turn out to be a fight between them and Ards to see who goes down. With no win since the end of November. Darren Mullen will be doing all he can to rally his troops and will be boosted by their three new signings; Ger Pender , Pablo Cavalcante and Karl Moody.
The North West men make the long journey to Co. Down this weekend to face Warrenpoint. The Point will be continuously looking over their shoulder as they are only six points clear of the relegation play- off place. This fixture is one Warrenpoint will be aiming to take all three points in and keep pushing to safety.
Stute will be out to try and get revenge after Warrenpoint dumped them out of the Irish Cup two weekends ago. They currently sit in seventh position and should begin to feel their Premiership safety is in touching distance after an impressive return. All three points for either side in this one could turn out to be a massive three points!