Since the last round Shanghai Shenhua has seen Gus Poyet walking out the doors and now it’s time to see if that has given the Shenhua players the well known “new manager boost” that most teams seem to get. And what a test for caretaker manager Wu Jingui. On the opposite side of the pitch is Shanghai SIPG meaning we have a Shanghai derby on our hands. Shenhua are languishing down in 12th place but in no real danger of getting seriously involved in the relegation battle. Yet. As for SIPG they have a proper gap of eight points to close on Guangzhou Evergrande in first. But as the saying goes, form and everything else goes out the window in derbies. Kickoff is 12.35 UK time tomorrow.
The round starts today, however, as relegation candidate Tianjin TEDA faces mid-table Changchun Yatai in roughly two hours. TEDA are in dire need of points while Changchun are in no-mans land, neither team are in great form so this could very well mean TEDA’s first victory in a while.
Going back to Saturday, a match to keep a real eye on is Guangzhou R&F versus Beijing Guoan. Both teams are in the hunt for a Champions League spot and are actually on the same amount of points, 37. R&F in 6th and Guoan in 7th means this will be no easy feat and a match both teams will hate to lose and love to win. Which probably means this will be a draw.
Another relegation contender is Liaoning Whowin who host Hebei China Fortune as the guests look to keep a hold of the third place they currently find themselves in. Liaoning have not won since the last match in July and they will most likely struggle here against a Hebei who have found their form again in recent weeks.
Two of the other teams chasing the Champions League spots are Tianjin Quanjian in fourth and Shandong Luneng in fifth. Tianjin play Chongqing Lifan who have an outside shot at top five if they play their cards right, while Shandong play bottom of the league Yanbian who are in desperate search of points. Neither match will be easy for the two top teams and they have to be at their very best to get something from their matches.
Last of the Saturday matches is a match between two teams that many had as serious relegation contenders but both have managed to climb to relative safety. Guizhou Hengfeng Zhicheng sit in a very respectable ninth and have been looking very solid for quite some time with four wins out of their last five while Henan Jianye have climbed the table in the last months before stumbling a little again.
The only game to be played on Sunday is league leaders Guangzhou Evergrande against Jiangsu Suning who are so close to being out of any kind of relegation talks that they can almost taste it. A win here would go a very long way to securing their spot for next year if the other results go their way. The same could be said for Evergrande as if they win and Shanghai SIPG lose they will have a gap of 11 points with only five matches to be played.
Bring on the matches.