ADNOC Pro League’s fifth match-week gets underway on Thursday with three fixtures set to be held while the remaining four games are to be played on Friday.
Top of the standings Al Ain and reigning champions Al Jazira will have their eyes on full points while headed for two tricky away encounters against Al Orooba and Sharjah respectively this weekend.
Al Ain, who are currently topping the table with a perfect run of four wins racking up 12 points, will travel to second-last placed Al Orooba for Thursday's opening game at 6.45 pm, while fourth-placed Sharjah will host defending champions Al Jazira, who lie in second on ten points, late on Friday.
With Ukrainian coach Serhiy Rebrov at the helm, Al Ain have been invincible so far this season, showing their best in last week's 4-1 drubbing of Ittihad Kalba.
Togo's Kodjo Laba has been one of the star performers for Al Ain.
The 29-year-old striker, who has been with The Boss since June 2019, has so far netted six goals and was named August player of the month.
That aside, the team has shown continuous improvement under Rebrov, and their encounter against promotes Al Orooba could well be one of several challenges before them this season.
After being mauled 5-0 and 4-0 by Al Nasr and Al Wahda respectively in their first two matches, Al Orooba did well with two successive draws against Shabab Al Ahli and Ajman to show marked improvement of their potential.
In the second match of the evening, Ittihad Kalba will be without their Togolese captain and striker Peniel Kokou Mlapa, as they host fast-improving Al Wasl.
Mlapa was the lone scorer in last week's 1-4 loss to Al Ain. But, Al Wasl realize they need to put in a lot of work if they are to count themselves among title challengers this season.
Al Wahda will make the long trip this week to take on Shabab Al Ahli with the hope of garnering full points.
Mahdi Ali’s men banked on a brace from 22-year-old Iranian Mehdi Gheyadi in a last-gasp 4-3 win against Sharjah last week.
On the other hand, Al Wahda, who have been buoyed up by their qualification for the quarter-finals of the AFC Champions League, will also be eyeing all three points.
In Friday's early games, Khor Fakkan will meet Al Dhafra at the Saqr bin Mohammad Al Qasimi Stadium, while Bani Yas will host Ajman in Abu Dhabi.
Khor Fakkan will have their sights on their first win of the season, while Al Dhafra will be counting on their gradual boost in confidence despite going down to Bani Yas at home last week.
Bani Yas, on the other hand, will be hoping to pick up where they left off last week after they secured their first win of the campaign.
However, the sky blues are fully aware of how difficult it will be to overcome stubborn Ajman who already lie mid-table with five points.
The fifth week will sign off with two big games as Al Jazira travel to Sharjah, while Al Nasr undertake a long trip to Ras Al Khaimah to play Emirates, late on Friday.
After opening with a 2-0 win against Al Dhafra, The Pride of Abu Dhabi were held to a goalless draw by Ittihad Kalba before getting their campaign back on track with two consecutive wins against Al Nasr and a hard-fought 3-2 result against Emirates Club.
Al Jazira will need to maintain this form, should they want to place pressure on front-runners such as Al Ain, Shabab Al Ahli and Sharjah, and fiercely defend their title for the remainder of the season.