Just the five matches this week in the Irish Premiership, with all five kicking off on Saturday at the usual time and all five games, have an overwhelming favourite which means the top sides face pressure to attain maximum points.
Glentoran and Ballymena miss out this weekend due to a ground issue for the latter. With Glentoran unable to reverse the fixture at a pre-booked Oval, both of these teams may find themselves further off the pace come 5 o’clock this Saturday.
League Leaders, Linfield return off the back of two disappointing draws, against Cliftonville and Ards. But the Blues have a very stout defence and have only conceded one goal in their opening six matches. They face a winless Dungannon side and with question marks about Rodney McAree’s future I have to follow the form book and go for a comfortable home win to nil.
Coleraine, another team with uncertainty over the managerial role following Oran Kearney’s departure to St Mirren, lie 2nd in the table with a game in hand. They travel to Ards after Nixon’s side earned a creditable point at Windsor Park. The Bannsiders thrashed league Champions Crusaders in front of the Sky Cameras last time out in the league, a fitting farewell for their departing manager. I think the Bannsiders will have to work hard for their victory in this one.
Crusaders have enjoyed a miserable start to the season and look an incredibly short price at home to Newry given their form. Newry received a bit of a thumping at Glentoran last time out but did beat Cliftonville the week before proving that they won’t don’ the tag of ‘pushovers’ against the league’s top sides. Inevitably Crusaders will stop the rot and bag a few goals to boot.
The banana skin fixture/result could come at Drumahoe as Institute has made a very decent start to the season in their return to the top flight. Glenavon is no stranger to throwing in a shock result as they were beaten at 1/40 in the League Cup this season. Hamilton’s men haven’t played since their draw with Glentoran, while Institute is 7 points from 9 at home this season. However, Glenavon is their toughest home assignment to date and will be ready to go following their break. I think they’ll squeeze a result here.
Lastly, a pointless Warrenpoint host Cliftonville. If history is anything to go by, the Point may have to settle for another defeat as they haven’t beaten Cliftonville at home in recent memory. The away side are always capable of scoring for fun, and with a home side, that has conceded 11 goals in their last two home games, its impossible not to fancy Cliftonville.
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