Some intense action can be expected heading into this week as all top teams vie to mount their challenge for honours in the Eighth Round of the UAE ADNOC Pro League to be held on Thursday and Friday (October 28-29).
Al Ain head the standings with 17 points, while Shabab Al Ahli are in close chase of the leader’s slot with 14 points.
Al Jazira and Al Nasr occupy the third and fourth places with identical 13 points, while Sharjah slipped down into fifth with 12 points leaving the sixth and seventh positions for Al Wahda and Ajman with eleven points each.
Al Ain will have their eyes firmly set on consolidating their position at the top when they travel to Dubai to face second-placed Shabab Al Ahli in what is expected to be the highlight of the week.
Running parallel to this will be the expected surge in fans numbers as both clubs supporters are expected to further charge up the atmosphere while filling up Rashid Stadium.
There will be three matches on Thursday with Ittihad Kalba travelling to the Al Maktoum Stadium against Al Nasr, while Al Orooba will host Sharjah in the two early games at 6.15 pm, whereas Al Jazira are set to host neighbours Baniyas in the late game of the night.
Both Al Nasr and Ittihad Kalba will be on the lookout for second successive wins following good displays in Round Seven.
Al Nasr were irrepressible in their 3-0 demolition of former champions Sharjah, while Ittihad Kalba fought back from a goal down to 2-1 win against Al Orooba.
A win for either of them will ensure an upward movement putting pressure on the early leaders.
With three draws so far, Al Orooba will be having an eye on their first win this season as they host a deflated Sharjah.
Their coach Abdul Aziz Al Anbari stepped down after Sharjah’s heavy defeat last week, and it will now be up to incoming Spanish coach Juan Carlos to mend things for players and team spirit.
The match between Al Jazira and Bani Yas at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium at 8.30 pm will conclude proceedings for the first day.
Currently in 12th place with six points, Bani Yas will want to shrug off an indifferent form that saw them being held to a 2-2 draw at home by Khorfakkan last week.
Third-placed Al Jazira too will be fretting after going down 1-2 to Shabab Al Ahli.
Friday will witness four matches with the highlight of Round Eight being the tussle between the top two as Shabab Al Ahli host Al Ain in a mouth-watering tie at 8.30 pm at the Rashid Stadium.
Al Wasl will try to move away from an indifferent showing so far as they travel to Ras Al Khaimah to take on Emirates, while Al Wahda will make the short trip across to Al Dhafra in the day’s two early games at 6.15 pm.
Ajman will travel to a resilient Khor Fakkan, buoyed up further with their decent show of form during recent times including a well-earned 2-2 draw with Bani Yas in the first of two late matches.
Much of the attention, however, will be on the match of the week with the standings’ summit on offer following the clash between Shabab Al Ahli and Al Ain.
Clashes between these two teams has always been the dominant factor, thanks to the fierce sense of competition between the two sides.
The two have met 22 times and Al Ain have the better record of eleven wins compared to the seven times Shabab Al Ahli have triumphed.
These 22 meetings have seen 80 goals – 46 of these by Al Ain and the remaining 34 goals by Shabab Al Ahli.