MATHEW WAGNER - Friday, July 20, 2012
Josh Gatt and Molde need three points to keep pace in the league title race, while Sebastian Troupe and Bærum's winning streak is on the line against Sandefjord.
Molde FK - Viking Stavanger
Following a 3-0 win against Ventspils in Champions League qualifying, Molde looks to cap off a solid eight-day stretch when Viking comes to town.
American winger Josh Gatt should start for the defending Norwegian champions.
Molde recovered from a loss two weeks ago against title rivals Rosenborg by picking up two wins within five days. The team beat Valerenga 2-1 last weekend and then put one foot into the third round of Champions League qualifying Wednesday with a convincing 3-1 win over Ventspils.
Molde also has a terrific record at home this season. The team has won all seven Tippeligaen games at home and their overall streak is at 10 when including the Norwegian Cup.
Viking doesn't appear to be much of a threat to end Molde's perfect home record, although Viking won the previous matchup on March 16th. The club hasn't had much success this season, having recorded its first win under new coach Kjell Jonevret just last weekend.
Molde will be without Emmanuel Ekpo and Børre Stenslid. Viking could be without Andre Danielsen.
Fredrikstad FK - Hønefoss BK
Having lost two of its last three games, Hønefoss hopes to rebound against Fredrikstad.
American goalkeeper Steve Clark should start once again for Hønefoss, while forward Kenneth di Vita Jensen should make the matchday squad.
Despite a man of the match performance by Clark that saw him make five saves, Hønefoss gave up a late goal last week in its 2-1 loss to Viking. It marked only the third time this season Clark allowed more than one goal in a game but the second time in the last three games.
Although Hønefoss is struggling, the team couldn't face a better opponent to bounce back against than Fredrikstad. Fredrikstad sits in 15th place, the last automatic relegation spot, and rides a two-game losing streak into the game.
Hønefoss is not reporting any injuries. Fredrikstad will be without Kevin Duré, Vidar Martinsen, Alex Valencia and Thomas Holm because of injuries and Ole Jørgen Halvorsen because of a red card in his last game.
Stabæk IF - Valerenga Oslo
With half the season in the books, Stabæk faces a tough task to pull itself out of last place and into safety, starting against Vålerenga Sunday.
Americans Sean Cunningham and Ricardo Clark should start for Stabæk in central defense and in central midfield, respectively.
Following an offseason that saw monetary problems practically gut the team, Stabæk hasn't really gotten off the ground in 2012. It had a two-game winning streak into and out of the summer break, but three losses in a row have squashed that momentum.
Coupled with the transfer of defender Vegar Eggen Hedenstad to Freiburg just this past week, the first half was one to forget.
It doesn't seem any easier with Vålerenga visiting. Not only does Stabæk hold the worst home record in the league, but Vålerenga boasts the fifth-best away record in the league with 10 points.
Stabæk will be without Torstein Andersen Aase. Vålerenga will be without Yssouf Koné, Dawda Leigh and Fegor Ogude.
Mjøndalen IF - Notodden FK
Although Mjøndalen sits in eighth place, it lies in the middle of a promotion fight as Notodden visits.
American defender Rhett Bernstein is questionable to play for Mjøndalen, while fellow defender Kyle Helton will miss because of yellow card accumulation.
Mjøndalen has been on fire since the end of the summer break, picking up seven points in its last three games. This has left the team only three points behind second-place Ullensaker/Kisa for the final automatic promotion spot.
Notodden, meanwhile, is on the downswing where they find themselves in the middle of a five-game winless streak.
Mjøndalen will be without Marcus Boldt, Lars Granaas, Benjamin Stokke, Emil Fossum and Bjarne Kortgaard Ingebretsen. Notodden will be without Christian Bjerke, Martin Holmen, Tarjei Dale and Bardh Shala.
Bærum SK - Sandefjord Fotball
Bærum's turnaround faces a test when the team hosts Sandefjord Sunday.
American defender Sebastian Troupe should start in defense for Bærum.
Bærum start to the season couldn't have been worse, losing nine games in a row and allowing no less than two goals per game in its first 11 games.
All has changed for Bærum in the last two weeks where they have picked up two wins and have allowed only one goal during that stretch. This modest streak has seen the team leap out of last place on goal differential.
Bærum's opponents also are flying high. Sandefjord rides a two-game winning streak into Bærum, impressing last week with a 2-0 win over Ullensaker/Kisa.
Bærum will be without with Rozhat Shaswari, Terje Sanne, Thomas Finstad, Magnus Ask Mikkelsen and Marius Lundemo because of injuries and Frederick Cornell because of yellow card accumulation. Erblin Llullaku and Thomas Larsen are questionable.
Sandefjord will be without Kenneth Dokken, Ørjan Røyrane, Yaw Amankwah and Alexander Gabrielsen because of injuries and Cato Hansen because of yellow card accumulation.