The Limassol derby between Aris and AEL is the game that stands out this week in round eight of the Cyprus football championship, while leaders AEK have a seemingly easy task against first division novices AEZ of Zakaki.
Much-troubled Anorthosis face Ermis Aradippou, with Omonia travelling to the Ammochostos stadium to face lowly Nea Salamina, with the home side desperate for the points.
The final weekend game is between Apollon and bottom of the league Anagennisi, while round eight will be concluded on Monday night with champions Apoel taking on Ethnikos Achnas at the GSP stadium.
Aris, who are winless so far, need to dig deep if they are to get anything out of their game against high-flying AEL.
Despite a poor start to the season, Aris chairman Stavros Demosthenous has stuck by his coach Thalis Theodorides and in recent comments said: “Our coach has our full support and together we shall pull through this rough patch.”
With the exception of Mukanza, Theodorides has all the other players at his disposal.
AEL, under Pambos Christodoulou, have shown that they are a well-organised side twho are very difficult to break down, conceding just two goals so far. Up front though, AEL have failed to sparkle, averaging just over a goal a game.
However, with former Primera Division striker Mikel Arruaburrena gradually finding his match form it should not be long before AEL start winning games with much more ease.
Anorthosis, who sacked coach Antonio Puche early this week and have yet to find a replacement, need the points against Ermis Aradippou to appease their demanding fans.
The Famagusta club are currently a team in disarray, and with tricky winger Carlitos also out for a couple of months, it may be easier said than done as Ermis have shown that on their day they can beat any team – their recent win over Apollon proving this.
AEK are expected to extend their perfect start to the season to eight straight wins when they take on AEZ.
The Zakaki team, despite having top scorer Onstantinos Pangalos in their ranks, should prove easy prey for Imanol Idiakez’s side who have diminutive winger Tete available from injury.
Nea Salamina who are currently languishing in the relegation zone with just one win, and having failed to score a home goal, take on Omonia with both teams in need of the points but for different reasons.
On paper Nea Salamina have a crop of players (Bebe, Makriev, Maachi, Kolokoudias) who would walk into most first division sides (if not all) and it should be a matter of time before new coach Staikos Vergetis finds the right balance.
Omonia have an excellent record against their opponents, winning eight of their last ten encounters.
With speedy striker Demetris Christofi back to full fitness, and the defence finally playing as a unit this should be a very closely fought game.
Apollon coach Pedro Emmanuel was under tremendous pressure the past week after losing to Ermis, but received his chairman’s full backing on Wednesday.
Against bottom of the table Anagennisi Dherynias, the Limassol team should have few problems in getting back on track.
The pleasant surprise of the season so far – Karmiotissa – are at home to Doxa for the weekend’s opening game and a win could take them into a top-six position.
ROUND 8 FIXTURE LIST
Karmiotissa vs Doxa and Apollon vs Anagennisi Dherynias (18.00)
Nea Salamina vs Omonia (20.00)
AEZ Zakakiou vs AEK (18.00)
Aris vs AEL (19.00)
Anorthosis vs Ermis Aradippou (20.00)
Apoel vs Ethnikos Achnas (19.00)