STATS: Milestone game for Arrows

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In its 25th edition, SA’s Premier Soccer League is still awash with the buying and selling of top-flight club licenses and franchises, much to the annoyance of many fans.

The recent fate suffered by Bidvest Wits and Highlands Park in the same season could be seen as justification for that rage. Fans crave continuity. Outside the ‘Big Four’ of Orlando Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United, matches like Golden Arrows v Bloem Celtic are that rare reminder that there is still some continuity in the modern game.

Celtic are always a familiar sight, as they have been around since the inaugural 1996/97 campaign, but were relegated along the way. Arrows joined the party a little later in the year 2000, but have also been a somewhat permanent fixture among the furniture – relegated for just one season in 2014/15. A cursory glance at the table will reveal Arrows seemingly on
their way to usurping the everpresent sides like SuperSport, Chiefs and Pirates this season.

And while it is mightily refreshing to see a different set of sides on Top4, it would be a
mistake to see Golden Arrows as a small side.

600 – Golden Arrows will play their 600th PSL top-flight game against Bloemfontein Celtic, becoming only the seventh side in PSL history to reach that landmark.

With Wits (714 games) no longer in the top-flight, it is actually Celtic (671 games) and KZN’s Arrows (599) that hold the fort as the next big clubs in the country.

Hopefully, the match this weekend shall live up to the occasion. February 2017 is the last time Arrows beat Celtic in the league, drawing three and winning four league games in that time, including a 5-0 thrashing in August 2019, one of Arrows’ lowest points of recent years. That said, Celtic will be coming up against a different Arrows side compared to the ones they have faced in recent years.

25 – Only AmaZulu (31) have won more points in 2021 than Arrows, who have won 25 points since the turn of the year. To make matters worse, Celtic have been woeful away from home. Siwelele are the only team yet to win an away game this season, with three draws and seven losses in ten
matches on the road. It’s the longest they have had to wait for an away win from the start of a league campaign since the 2008/09 when they went the entire season without winning away. Only six sides in PSL history have completed a full season without an away win, including African Wanderers who lost all 17 away games in 1999/2000.

17 – Altogether, Celtic are now winless in 17 league games away from home (D6 L11, since January 2020), their longest such run in their PSL history.

They will need to dig deep to get a win against Mandla Ncikazi’s side, whose eyes are now set firmly on a Top 4 finish. That said, even they Abafana Bes’thende have stuttered of late, and are winless in three home matches since beating Pirates at the beginning of February.

A win in their 600th match would be the perfect response.

Other matches

Swallows v Black Leopards

Bottom of the table Leopards travel to Swallows FC in search of anything that could help them in the relegation battle. The future looks very bleak at the moment for Leopards, who are now six points from safety following TTM’s win against TS Galaxy on Saturday.

0 – No team has survived relegation having won as many points as Leopards (13), with so little of the season to play (9 games).

This weekend presents their best chance to get a win in a while. Swallows FC have not won a league match since January 16, and could equal the longest winless run by a team this season if they fail to win here. Draws have been their downfall.

12 – Swallows FC have drawn 12 matches this season. No side has drawn more than 12 in a season since Highlands Park in 2018/19 (14).

By Opta Jabu

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