With round 3 safely out of the way, we look ahead to what lies in store when League One plays its fourth round of fixtures this coming weekend.
Beijing BG vs Wuhan Zall
For the second week running Wuhan are probably involved in the biggest game of the round as they travel to Beijing for their first away match of the season. This is a battle between last season’s third and fourth placed sides and may go some way to showing which team has better credentials to compete with Dalian and Harbin in the promotion race.
Zall’s season started badly, but their second half performance during the 1-1 draw with Dalian will give them renewed confidence going forward. Meanwhile, BG got over their round 2 defeat in Dalian with a win over Xinjiang in round 3. Neither side will want to drop more points this week, although Wuhan look the most likely too. Prediction: 2-1
Dalian Aerbin vs Hunan Billows
In Dalian, former manager Aleksander Stankov returns to the north east with new club Hunan Billows. The Bulgarian will have something to prove having led Aerbin to promotion in 2011 only to be let go by the club who said they wanted a more experienced man to guide them in the top flight.
The home side will be strong favourites here, but come into the match following a poor second half against Wuhan. Hunan, meanwhile, will be buoyed by their first win and goals of the season against Tianjin Songjiang this past week. Should Hunan get anything out of this fixture, they will move back into the reckoning as outside candidates for promotion, but that may be too big an ask against such strong opponents. Prediction: 2-0
Jiangxi Liansheng vs Hohhot Zhongyou
This match is a repeat of last season’s League Two final. Goals from Xian Tao and Wang Jianwen were enough to give Liansheng victory that day but, based on the early season form of both sides, the smart money says Hohhot will condemn Jiangxi to another defeat. It is clear from results in the opening three games which club has come into 2015 better prepared and it will be quite a surprise if the 2014 League Two champions are able to claim a point from their Inner Mongolian rivals. Prediction: 0-1
Qingdao Hainiu vs Hebei CFFC
This fixture is also a repeat of a League Two final of the past, only this time it’s the 2013 edition. Back then the glamorous Hebei CFFC were just lowly old Hebei Zhongji and they were beaten 3-1 by their coastal opponents. In 2014 it was Hainiu tipped to do great things, while this season is all about CFFC.
Thus far, neither side has lived up to the hype and they come into this game with just one win between them. That victory came for Qingdao who snapped a winless league run of fifteen games when they defeated Jiangxi last weekend. However, the Shandong still haven’t taken three points at home in seven matches – a streak that stretches all the way back into June of last year.
For their part, Hebei remain without a win this season despite playing their first three matches at home. Unless the game is drawn, something will have to give and Hebei have shown enough in their last two performances, if not the actual results, to suggest that they may be able to sneak a win. Prediction: 2-3
Guizhou Zhicheng vs Harbin Yiteng
Harbin will be expected to pick up a third win in four away games when they make the trip to Guiyang this week. Following a hopeful 1-1 draw with Shenzhen on the opening day of the season, Zhicheng have looked like a side that had less than three weeks to prepare for a season in League One and that’s because they are.
Harbin, on the other hand, look like a club with a point to prove after getting relegated from last year’s Super League. The draw with Hebei last weekend was a set back, but Zhicheng have so far done little to demonstrate that they are anything but cannon fodder in this year’s League One and Yiteng, who have scored a league high eight goals so far this season, have plenty of cannons. The game also sees Zhicheng’s forward Rodrigo take on the club who released him in the winter, but the Brazilian and his teammates may be in for a long day. Prediction: 0-3
Beijing Institute of Technology vs Xinjiang Tianshan Leopard
This is a repeat of the fixture which drew a League One low of 68 spectators last season, but a few more are expected to turn out this year to see if BIT can maintain their unbeaten record. The university side have surprised just about everyone with their strong start and will be slight favourites against a Xinjiang team which has greatly improved since its opening day tonking at the hands of Dalian.
It’s a fourth straight away game for Xinjiang, although at least they don’t have to travel far this week after falling to Beijing BG in their previous encounter. Eleven goals were scored in the two meetings between these sides last season so a high scoring and entertaining affair should be expected. Prediction: 2-2
Yanbian Changbaishan vs Shenzhen FC
The starts these two sides have had to the season so far couldn’t be more contrasting. Yanbian have shocked everybody by picking up seven points from three away games, while Shenzhen have managed just two draws from three home games they were favoured to win. Now the roles are reversed and Shenzhen take their first trip of the season all the way up to the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture which plays host to its maiden clash of 2015.
At the beginning of the season, Shenzhen would have been heavy favourites to pick up the win against a side who managed just three victories throughout their 2014 campaign. However, Yanbian’s early season exploits and the large crowd that is likely to turn out to welcome them for their home opener mean it is hard to see them losing this game; although, Shenzhen may just have enough about them to nick a point. Prediction: 1-1
Tianjin Songjiang vs Qingdao Jonoon
Songjiang take on Jonoon in a game that fails to capture the imagination. The home side are perennial mid-tablers while Jonoon look as though they may also be consigned to that fate this season. The Besek connection made Tianjin’s last two games interesting, but that doesn’t apply here as two sides with inconsistent starts to the season battle it out.
One thing worthy of noting is that this is Songjiang’s first home game of the season, meaning that the game will at least be played in the League’s only football specific stadium. One hopes that the two sides can produce a game fitting for such surroundings, but there is nothing to suggest that they will. Prediction: 0-0