A crucial weekend in the Airtricity League sees the league leaders travel to the champions on Sunday while the weekend kicks off with the pre-season favourites playing the team in 2nd. Loads to look out for but here's our choices.
1) Can Pats rebound from European disappointment and stay top?
Pats had a bit of good fortune last week as their closest rivals dropped points while they recovered from their European endeavours. No such luck this week as they have 66 hours between last night’s defeat at home to Lithuanian side Zalgiris and potentially the biggest game of their league campaign in Sligo on Sunday. Pats will be missing two key players in Kenny Browne and Killian Brennan while Sligo’s team look to be overcoming their injury niggles. If Pats win on Sunday, they’ll be 7 points clear of the champions. The odds are against them though as they haven’t won a league game in Sligo since March 2009, with Sligo winning last time to clinch their deserved 2012 league title. A draw seems to suit Pats more
2) Can Derry win in Tallaght and go top this weekend?
Derry City are 3 points behind Pats and 5 goals behind Pats. A win by 5 goals in Tallaght is unlikely but if Derry and Sligo both win, it’s not inconceivable that Derry will be top on Sunday evening (and it would mean 1 point covering the top 3). In their way is a Shamrock Rovers team unbeaten in the last 9, and unbeaten at home all season. Those stats suggest Rovers should be right in the middle of the title race but they remain in 5th, 11 points behind Pats thanks to their league high 10 draws. Their problem has been goals though and tonight should see the debut of former Derry player Eamon Zayed. Trevor Croly still believes his team can win the league but they’ll need to win tonight to have any hope. It’s live on Setanta Ireland
3) Can Dundalk can ground on everyone at the top?
They should win and make up ground on some teams ahead of them anyway. They face a Bohs side that has earned only 6 points in their last 12 games and has lost their last 3. Dundalk continue their excellent away form last week with a late win in Derry and Stephen Kenny will expect a comfortable win tonight. With the other 4 teams in the top 5 playing each other, Dundalk are perfectly poised to attack them all.
4) Can Shels get to within a point of Bohs?
If Dundalk do manage to beat Bohs, a win for Shels at home to Cork City would bring them to within a point of Bohs and leave everyone connected to Shels thinking they can avoid relegation. Only 2 weeks ago Cork were looking over their shoulder at that battle but a huge win against Sligo last week cemented their mid-table safety. Shels’ main problem has been scoring goals and with Dean Kelly and Mark Leech out, a win tonight will have to be hard fought.
5) Will UCD beat a tired Drogheda to match them on points?
These two teams couldn’t have had more different build up to this game. UCD haven’t played in 2 weeks since beating Cork City 3-0. Since then Drogheda have played 4 times with games in the League, League Cup and 2 in Europe. Last night they fought gamely in Malmo but in the end, the Swedes won through. If UCD win, they’ll be on the same 20 point mark as Drogheda and depending how other results go, they could be 11 points clear of relegation.
Whatever happens, enjoy the games!