DAVID SMITH - Friday, September 14, 2012
Michael Parkhurst and Nordsjaelland can climb into first with a win at neighboring Copenhagen while Conor O'Brien and SønderjyskE will try to stop their slide against underwhelming Silkeborg.
SønderjyskE - Silkeborg IF
After losing three straight in league play, Conor O'Brien and SønderjyskE will look to get back on the winning track on Saturday when relegation-threatened Silkeborg come to visit.
A home loss to Odense in mid-August kicked off a poor run of play for SønderjyskE, with heavy-handed defeats to both Aalborg and Nordsjaelland putting the team in crisis mode.
The lone bright spot was cup win over second-tier team Hobro, but that will do little to quell fears that the team is in for a tough ride for the coming months.
The sale of attacking star Quincy Antipas to Brøndby during the international window has only compounded matters, as it leaves them without their top offensive weapon, and needing somebody else to step in and pull out the heavy artillery when they need it the most.
As bad as things have been for O'Brien and his teammates as of late, Silkeborg has suffered an even more difficult run for the entire season, winning just one of their first eight games, and looking headed to a likely drop back into the First Division.
Aside from the loss of Antipas, SønderjyskE are reporting no players absent from their available squad.
Silkeborg will be without Thorbjørn Holst Rasmussen, Simon Jakobsen, Sune Kiilerich, Martin Svensson and Kasper Risgard, all out with injury.
FC Copenhagen - FC Nordsjaelland
Michael Parkhurst returns from a trying international break, and will have little time to reflect as the team heads across town to take on Copenhagen in the first of two huge matches in the space of four days.
Nordsjaelland have awoken after a slow start, and their current run of six undefeated games has brought them to third place and back into contention for a title repeat.
While Saturday's showdown could be seen as the first truly pivotal clash of the season for the Wild Tigers, with a win possibly enough to put them ahead of the Superligaen standings, they will undoubtedly have some troubles to avoid thinking ahead to their first-ever Champions League game in Ukraine four days later.
Shortly after facing down the team whose three-year hegemony on the league they ended last season, Nordsjaelland will be tasked with opening their European campaign on the road against the current Ukrainian champions and 2009 UEFA Cup winners Shakhtar Donetsk.
Saturday's opponents Copenhagen are still the lone undefeated team left in the Superligaen, and will be looking to get back on track after a heartbreaking aggregate loss to Lille kept them out of the Champions League group stage, and a difficult draw with Odense sent them into the international break with a whimper.
Nordsjaelland are not reporting any injured or suspended players, while Copenhagen will be missing starting keeper Johan Wiland, who picked up a thigh injury on international duty, and forward Mustafa Abdellaoue who is out with a leg injury.
Brøndby IF - AC Horsens
Clarence Goodson and Brøndby will hope that a bit of added firepower can give them the added push they need against Horsens to turn around an otherwise awful season.
The addition of Quincy Antipas at the tail-end of the transfer window gave Brøndby one of the more exciting attacking players in Denmark over the last two seasons, and a much-needed threat up front for an otherwise anemic attack.
They have won just a single game since the season's start, although did show some signs of improvement heading into the break with three straight draws, including two impressive road performances against both Nordsjaelland and Copenhagen.
As matters stand, a loss combined with wins by the two teams below them could drop them into last place, however they could have luck against visiting Horsens, who have failed to impress since their relatively decent start.
Brøndby have a full squad for the game, while Horsens are missing both Magnus Rugholm and Søren Mortensen, both of whom were injured in their midweek Danish Cup win.
Charlie Davies will likely reprise his role as a late attacking substitute on Sunday afternoon when Randers head north to take on Aalborg BK.
Mike Jones is not a likely participant for Hjørring's Sunday-afternoon visit to FC Fyn.
Brad Rusin is out for up to two months with a leg injury, while Shawn Nicklaw might lose his starting position in a defensive shuffle when last-place Køge hit the road and search for their first win on Sunday at Skive IK.