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Chinese Super League Week 4: Previews and predictions

Week three of the Chinese Super League season came and went with relatively few surprises.

The week’s big winners were Guangzhou City who kept their first clean sheet of the season and went top of the league with a 1-0 win against Qingdao. And the team that will have been left most disappointed last week was Shanghai Port, who would have taken the top spot had a late penalty not robbed them of victory in the Shanghai Derby.

Week four, has plenty of exciting match-ups and begins today with two local derbies. With Shandong Taishan and Qingdao going head to head first followed by Guangzhou City and Shenzhen later in the day.

Shandong Taishan v Qingdao

Saturday, 8th May

Tianhe Stadium, Guangzhou

This will be the first ever league meeting for these two teams and Taishan will go in as overwhelming favourites. Qingdao have performed far worse so far this year than their middle-table league position suggests and are likely to be outplayed by a Shandong team that has hit the ground running this season.

Qingdao will probably line-up again in a 4-5-1 formation, but will likely still be totally dominated in the middle of the park by some of Taishan foreign stars. Don’t be surprised if this match is effectively over as a contest by half-time.

One to watch – Son Jun-ho – The midfield engine should power Taishan to victory.

Prediction – A comfortable 3-0 win for Taishan.

Guangzhou City v Shenzhen

Saturday, 8th May

Yuexiushan Stadium, Guangzhou

The van Gastel era at Guangzhou City has got off to a dream start but City are in for real test this weekend as they face Jordi Cruyff’s Shenzhen.

This is going to one of the trickiest games of the week to call. Guangzhou are in excellent form having taken seven points from their first three games but come up against a Shenzhen team that is packed with talent.

This match will be something of a meeting of the minds as we see two of the CSL’s top foreign managers go head to head. And the outcome of Saturday’s encounter may well end up being decided by which of the two has the greater level of tactical acumen on the day.

One to watch – Han Jiaqi – City’s goalkeeper has been in excellent form and could be in for a busy night against Shenzhen.

Prediction – A pulsating 2-2 draw.

Chongqing Liangjiang Athletic v Henan Songshan Longmen

Sunday, 9th May

Guangzhou University Sports Town Stadium, Guangzhou

Both of these two teams from central China come into Sunday’s encounter looking for their first wins of the season. Chongqing and Henan have both started their campaigns with some tough matches and will both be encouraged after battling draws last week. 

This is going to be another very difficult match to call but the quality of Henan’s attacking players may just give them the edge. Henrique Dourado got off the mark last week and Mohamed Buya Turay has been in decent form. If these two are able to put in a good showing on Sunday, Henan may be able to seal their first win of the season.

One to watch – Mohamed Buya Turay – His pace and athleticism could cause real problems for Chongqing.

Prediction – Henan get their first win of the campaign with a 2-1 victory.

Cangzhou Mighty Lions v Guangzhou

Sunday, 9th May

Huadu Stadium, Guangzhou

The Cangzhou Mighty Lions spent big this off-season rebuilding their squad but have yet to see any big return on their investment in terms of points and three games into the season are still winless.

It’s unlikely that things are going to turn round for the Mighty Lions this weekend against a Guangzhou team that seemed to have turned a corner last weekend. Cannavaro’s side finally seemed to click into gear against Shenzhen last Sunday and if they can carry that momentum into this Sunday’s game they should comfortably be able to take all three points.

One to watch – Elkeson – Seemed back to his best last week and should be a real threat on Sunday.

Prediction – Guangzhou start to hit their stride with 3-1 win.

Hebei v Shanghai Shenhua

Monday, 10th May

Jiangyin Sports Centre Stadium, Suzhou

For nearly half an hour last Wednesday it looked like Shenhua’s fabulous start to season was going to come to an end. A controversial late penalty however saved the day and now they go into Monday’s clash with Hebei with the wind firmly in their sails.

Like Shenhua, Hebei have also clocked up two wins and a draw from their opening three matches but have done so with probably the easiest to start to the season of any of the teams in the Chinese Super League. They looked uninspiring last week as they eked out a 1-0 win against a very poor Tianjin Tiger team and will need to really up their game if they want to get a result against in form Shenhua.

One to watch – Wu Xi – The 32 year old has been in sparkling form since joining Shenhua this off-season.

Prediction – Shenhua keep the ball rolling with a 2-1 win.

Wuhan v Beijing Guoan

Monday, 10th May

Suzhou Sports Centre Stadium, Suzhou

Not exactly a derby but still a huge grudge match for Wuhan whose fan base still hold a great deal of animosity towards Guoan after an incident in a match between these two in 2008 led to the Wuhan Optics Valley withdrawing from the league.

The neutral location for this match may take the sting out off this game, but it should still be a tasty encounter. Wuhan’s season has got off to a patchy start with two draws and a defeat. They will desperately be looking to get some momentum going by picking up a result against Guoan.

Guoan picked up their first win of year last weekend but their season went from bad to worse as Jonathan Viera picked up a serious injury before half-time. With Viera now out of action for the foreseeable future, the boys from the capital will be hoping that last season’s CSL top scorer Cedric Bakambu can finally find his shooting boots and fire Guoan to victory.

One to watch – Cedric Bakambu – Really needs a goal after a slow start to the season.

Prediction – Guoan grind out a 2-0 win.

Dalian Pro v Tianjin Tiger

Tuesday, 11th May

Kunshan Sports Centre Stadium, Suzhou

The CSL’s bottom two sides meet in the penultimate clash of week four.

Tianjin Tiger’s squad was decimated during an extremely turbulent off-season this year and were widely expected to be one of the worst teams the CSL has ever seen. So far Tiger have largely lived up to that billing but haven’t been quite as bad as some expected and even managed a nil-nil draw against Changchun Yatai in week two.

Dalian Pro were also expected to struggle this year and were dealt a huge blow when Rafa Benitez threw in the towel just before the start of the season. New manager Jose Gonzalez had a disastrous spell in charge of Wuhan in 2020 and hasn’t looked any better this year in charge of Dalian. Pro have lost all three games so far this year will be looking to stop the rot when they face Tiger on Tuesday night.

One to watch – Shan Huanhuan – With Pro’s foreign forwards still unavailable the pressure will be on the youngster to deliver the good.

Prediction – An excruciating 0-0 stalemate.

Shanghai Port v Changchun Yatai

Tuesday, 11th May

Jiangyin Sports Centre Stadium, Suzhou

Shanghai Port’s perfect start to the season may have come to an end on Wednesday but they should still that enough quality to see off Changchun Yatai in the final match of week four.

Yatai are currently undefeated but so far have only come up against some of the league’s weaker teams and worryingly haven’t scored in their past two matches. Port’s defence did look shakey at times against Shenhua but Yatai’s attacking line will really have to step it up if they want to challenge for a result on Tuesday night.

One to watch – Ablahan Haliq – Signed for Port after impressing with China Under-19s in League Two last year. This season he has began to emerge as one the country’s top young talents.

Prediction – A lot less drama this week, with Port running out 2-0 winners.

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