MTNFootball’s PSL Permutations!
at the permutations in the final run-in to the Absa Premiership season!
THE RACE FOR THE TITLE
Position: 1st, 55 points from 26 games
How they can win the league: Chiefs could win the league against Ajax Cape Town on May 1 if they beat Platinum Stars and Ajax, and Orlando Pirates don’t take full points from their matches against BidVest Wits and Chippa United. Otherwise, they will win the league if they beat Stars, Ajax and SuperSport United in a rescheduled fixture that has yet to be given a date.
Position: 2nd, 49 points from 26 games
How they can win the league: Stars must beat Kaizer Chiefs on Sunday and likely win all their remaining matches. That would take them to 61 points. They would then need Chiefs to get no more than five points from their three remaining games against Ajax, SuperSport and University of Pretoria.
Position: 3rd, 46 points from 25 games
How they can win the league: If Pirates win all five of their remaining games against BidVest Wits (away), Chippa (home), Mamelodi Sundowns (home), Black Leopards (home) and Maritzburg United (home) then they will finish on 61 points. Given their goal-difference, they will then need to hope that Chiefs take no more than five points from their remaining four matches. If Platinum Stars win their remaining four games they will also finish on 61 points and it will come down to goal-difference with Bucs.
THE RACE FOR A PLACE IN THE TOP EIGHT
Position: 4th, 37 points from 26 games
Likelihood of top eight: Wits have looked strong in the last few weeks and although they do have Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns in their run-in, they should get positive results against AmaZulu and University of Pretoria. They should finish in the top eight.
Position: 5th, 36 points from 25 games
Likelihood of top eight: SuperSport have a difficult run-in with eight games in a month in all competitions. In the league they must face title-chasing Chiefs and Platinum Stars away from home, as well as potentially difficult journies to Bloemfontein Celtic and Golden Arrows. Their only home match in the last five is against unpredictable Moroka Swallows. Their extra game means they should squeeze into the top eight, but not by much.
Position: 6th, 35 points from 26 matches
Likelihood of top eight: Maritzburg had seemed certainties for a top eight place earlier in the season, but too many draws have hurt their chances. They have a tricky run-in with matches against Pirates, Platinum Stars, Moroka Swallows and desperate Ajax Cape Town. They may drop out of the top eight, probably on the last day.
FREE STATE STARS
Position: 7th, 34 points from 26 matches
Likelihood of top eight: Stars’ form has dipped dramatically in recent months with their last win coming all the way back on February 20. Luckily for them good early season form saw them secure points, but we think they will still edge into the top eight with a gentle run-in that includes home matches with AmaZulu and Black Leopards. They must also travel to Sundowns and Celtic.
Position: 8th, 34 points from 26 matches
Likelihood of top eight: Celtic are another side whose late season form has dipped, but crucially they have two more home games to come and that could make all the difference. Those are against a weary SuperSport side and struggling Free State Stars. They must also travel to Sundowns and Swallows, but we think they will sneak into the top eight.
Position: 9th, 33 points from 26 matches
Likelihood of top eight: This has been a amazing debut season for AmaTuks in the top flight, but too many drawshave spoiled their party a bit. We think they will battle to regain their top eight place that had seemed a certainty earlier in the campaign. They must travel to strugglers Leopards and Chippa, who will be fighting for their lives, and host tough opponents in Wits and Chiefs.
Position: 10th, 32 points from 26 matches
Likelihood of top eight: The Birds were unlucky in defeat to Chiefs at the weekend and their form remains decent. They have a gentle-ish run-in with home matches against Arrows and Celtic. They must also travel to Maritzburg and SuperSport, but we think they will get back into the top eight and stay there.
Position: 11th, 29 points from 25 matches
Likelihood of top eight: Sundowns have five games remaining but their inconsistency and wastefulness in front of goal means they are unlikely to make that extra game count. They host the Free State teams Celtic and Stars, as well as Wits on the final day of the season, and must also travel to Leopards and Pirates. In previous years you might have expected them to win four of those matches, but that would seem unlikely this season. They will finish outside the top eight.
Position: 12th 29 points from 26 matches
Likelihood of top eight: Usuthu have been involved in a relegation scrap for most of the season but the arrival of Craig Rosslee as coach turned their campaign around. Just one loss in their last six has seen them move up the table and they probably need just one more victory in their last four games to ensure survival. If they could win three of those they could sneak into the top eight. Their run-in is not so bad either, with home matches against Leopards and Chippa, and away games at Free State Stars and Wits. They will probably finish where they are though, 12th.
THE BATTLE AGAINST THE DROP
Position: 13th, 28 points from 26 games
Likelihood of relegation: Arrows probably need just one more win to be safe in their final four games, but they are the kind of side that could loose all their remaining matches. They host SuperSport and Platinum Stars, and must travel to Swallows and Ajax on the final day of the season. We think they will survive though.
Position: 14th, 23 points from 25 games
Likelihood of relegation: Leopards have an extra game over their relegation rivals, even if it is against Pirates. But they appear to hitting some sort of form at a vital time of the season and even one extra point could make the difference. They host AmaTuks and Sundowns in the run-in, and must travel to AmaZulu, Pirates and Free State Stars. They might just do enough to survive.
AJAX CAPE TOWN
Position: 15th, 23 points from 26 games
Likelihood of relegation: It is quite clear that the crucial fixture for Ajax in their run-in is the match in Philippi against Chippa on Saturday night. Win that and one of their challengers will be eliminated. Defeat is unthinkable. Aside from that match they host Chiefs, travel to Maritzburg and host Arrows on the final day of the season. This team does not handle pressure at all well though and we think they will finish 15th and in the relegation play-off position. However, we do back them to come through the play-offs and ultimately survive.
Position: 16th, 20 points from 25 games
Likelihood of relegation: Four points from their last two games under new coach Mark Harrison has given Chippa some hope of beating the drop. But they must still probably win three of their last four games to stay up. Two of those look winnable, home to Ajax and AmaTuks. They are also away at Pirates and AmaZulu on the final day of the season. We believe their turbulent season will finish in the disappointment of automatic relegation.