Birkirkara in ‘Save the Premier League’ mission tomorrow
● Stripes face runaway league leaders Balzan in weekend’s top clash ● Tough match also for Hibernians against Floriana as Valletta take on Gzira U.; Hamrun S. face Sliema W. ● Tarxien- Mosta and St AndrewsPembroke are direct relegation clashes
The Bank of Valletta Premier League resumes this weekend after the international break which included similar 2-0 away defeats at the hands of England and Lithuania.
This weekend, or rather tomorrow, Birkirkara are called by all local enthusiasts to save the League as they taken on leaders Balzan who are already enjoying a six-point lead over the same Stripes and Hibernians.
Even the Paolites face a tough match when facing Floriana, while next in line Valletta and Hamrun will be meeting Gzira and Sliema respectively.
At the other end of the standings, two interesting matches await local football followers with Tarxien playing against Mosta and St Andrews and Pembroke clashing in another derby match.
As already stated, the top weekend clash is the derby between Balzan and Birkirkara, that is, the first and second placed in the standings.
Balzan have had a very positive start to the season having won six and drawn the other match to obtain 19 points from a possible 21.
From what has been seen so far, it is evident that Oliver Spiteri’s side is the most consistent and most impressive formation.
And Birkirkara will have to be at their very best to outsmart the leaders and bring their unbeaten run to an end, thus also reducing the gap from six to three points and therefore saving the Premier League.
The Stripes have been somewhat unimpressive in their last few matches which also included that miserable defeat against bottom placed Pembroke.
If Balzan win tomorrow’s clash, they may well be able to extend their lead, especially if Hibernians falter today in their match against Floriana.
I expect Floriana to do their best to return to winning form after having figured in a 1-1 draw against Hamrun and a 3-1 loss against Sliema in their last two matches.
Hibernians will also be eager to return to winning form after having been held to a surprise 1-1 draw by Gzira United in their last league match.
The Paolites, like Birkirkara and the other challengers, cannot afford to lose more points even if the competition is still at an early stage.
Gzira have been one of the positive surprises so far this season. And in their last match against Hibernians, they simply confirmed that they cannot be taken for granted.
Valletta will also be eager to return onto the winning trail as they take on Gzira United.
In the last three matches, the citizens gained only one point following two defeats at the hands of Floriana and Hibernians and a draw against Birkirkara.
Now it is imperative for them to start winning the points if they are to retain their hopes of continuing their challenge to retain the title.
The Hamrun-Sliema clash should also be worth watching.
With the Spartans showing impressive form in their return to the Premier League and with Sliema showing signs of a good recovery after a disappointing start to the season, I expect both sides to go all out for a win which would enable them to consolidate their position in the standings.
The Tarxien-Mosta clash as well as tomorrow’s derby game between St Andrews and Pembroke should also be keen encounters where precious points vis-a-vis the relegation issue will be at stake.
The four teams have shown some improvement of late and I expect all of them to go all out for a victory. Balzan Birkirkara Hibernians Hamrun Valletta Floriana Gzira Sliema Tarxien Mosta St. Andrews Pembroke 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 6 4 4 3 3 3 2 3 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 2 2 1 3 0 2 0 0 1 0 16 6 19 2 15 6 13 2 10 8 13 2 15 10 11 2 11 9 11 3 9 8 10 2 9 8 9 4 8 10 9 3 7 11 8 5 8 15 6 5 6 14 6 5 8 17 4
Action from an encounter between Hibrenians and Floriana last season