Matchweek 17, which is scheduled to be held on February 18th and 19th, is brimming with enticing matchups. Below, we shed light on potential thrillers this weekend and preview another exciting matchweek in the Arabian Gulf League.
Ajman will kick off the action when they host Al Nasr at Rashid Bin Saeed Stadium on Thursday. The home side need to return to winning ways after falling to two consecutive defeats that left them in 13th place with nine points. In case Ajman won and Fujairah stumbled against Al Ain on Friday, the Oranges can climb out of the relegation zone. Meanwhile, Al Nasr’s recent poor results saw them collect four points only out of their past five matches, leaving them in fifth place with 27 points. Goals are expected at Rashid Bin Saeed Stadium, as none of the previous league encounters between the sides had ended in a goalless draw.
Al Dhafra prepare for a tough clash with league leaders Sharjah at Hamdan Bin Zayed Stadium. The hosts remain winless since matchweek 10, which put them in 10th place with 16 points. Meanwhile, Sharjah are expected to fight for the three points to maintain their top position after their last week's 2-1 defeat to Al Ain. The King will also be looking to repeat their 5-0 win in the first half of the season and grab their fifth league win in a row over Al Dhafra.
The most anticipated game of Day 1 will see Al Jazira welcome their rivals Bani Yas at Mohammad Bin Zayed Stadium in what is expected to be a thrilling clash, considering the two sides' history and league standings. The Pride of Abu Dhabi enter the game on the front foot as they defeated Bani Yas 12 times in their 19 league encounters, compared to three wins only for the Sky Blues, who will also be trying to keep a clean sheet against Al Jazira for the first time in the league (49 goals in 19 matches).
There’s plenty at stake, as Al Jazira will be looking to keep up the chase with leaders Sharjah after moving level with them on 36 points. On the other hand, Bani Yas aim to avenge their 3-1 defeat to Al Jazira at home in the first half of the season and close on the gap with Al Jazira and Sharjah, as they are currently trailing by four points in third place. The rivalry extends to the top goalscorer race, as Ali Mabkhout will seek to keep the momentum alive after netting a hat-trick in his side’s 6-0 win over Ittihad Kalba last week to top the goalscoring charts, sitting two goals above Bani Yas’ Joao Pedro.
Meanwhile, Shabab Al Ahli will travel to face Hatta at Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium. The hosts enter the game at the back of a 3-0 win over Ajman, which marked their first win of the season. Hatta will be seeking to earn their second win in a row in hopes of moving away from the bottom of the standings. They will, however, face an uphill task, as they clash with Shabab Al Ahli who are looking to bounce back from their 2-2 draw with Al Wahda last week to resume their march towards the top four.
In case Hatta won, it would mark their first-ever victory over Shabab Al Ahli in the league as they suffered four defeats and a draw, while conceding 17 goals and scoring two only.
The action resumes on Friday when Al Wahda welcome Khorfakkan at home. The Clarets will be looking to return to winning ways to edge into the top four, while Khorfakkan hopes to collect the three points to move further away from the relegation zone.
At the same time, Al Wasl will take on Ittihad Kalba at home, as the hosts enter the game on the back of a 1-0 win over Al Nasr in the derby, while the Tigers look to bounce back off their heavy 6-0 defeat to Al Jazira to maintain their mid-table position.
Al Ain and Fujairah conclude the matchweek 17 action, as the hosts are looking to keep the momentum alive after beating Sharjah last week. Meanwhile, Fujairah seek to earn their second strraight win after beating Al Dhafra 4-2.