It was around this stage of last season that Orlando Pirates were considering whether the Rulani Mokwena experiment had run its course.
With 16 points from 12 games, the Buccaneers were in 8th position on the table and Mokwena oversaw just one more game before Josef Zinnbauer was brought in to help.
If Pirates lose to Arrows this afternoon (17:00), they will be one-point better off at the same stage as they were in 2019/20. Zinnbauer seemed to have steadied Pirates in his first few weeks in charge, winning seven of his first eight league games in charge. But the old problems have re-emerged as his side have struggled for consistency in the league since losing to Kaizer Chiefs in the Soweto Derby just before lockdown.
1 – Pirates have strung 3 league wins in a row only once since the end of February 2020 (Played 20), these were the last three games in the bio-bubble.
Beside that 3-game winning run, they have also managed to win back-back matches only once in that time. While the inconsistencies are there for all to see, the 100% MTN8 Cup run is counter evidence that this is a quality side. As they host Golden Arrows on Wednesday, they will be looking to regain some of that Cup momentum and climb up the table. If Pirates win against Arrows, the Buccaneers would inflict a first defeat of the season on the KZN side and overtake them into fourth.
10 – Arrows are unbeaten in 10 matches this season, their best start to a league campaign in their PSL history.
Arrows’ start has not been as heralded as, say, Swallows, Mamelodi Sundowns or SuperSport United, but it is worth noting that Mandla Ncikazi’s unbeaten men are the only side to have scored in every league game this season. Should they find the net against Pirates, they will set a record of their own – Arrows have never scored in 11 successive league games in the PSL.
Yet, their record on the road has not been great over the years. Since April 2018, Arrows have beaten only one opponent in the league when playing away matches outside KZN (Baroka, twice). The away record to Pirates is just as bad, winning just one of the 16 matches on the road since 2003. Yet, the last three have ended in draws.
3 – The Pirates home fixture v Arrows has ended goalless on each of the last three occasions, the longest run of successive goalless draws Pirates have had at home to a single opponent.
Could we be in for another goalless draw?
Another reason Pirates would want to avoid defeat is their January record:
2 – Pirates have already lost two league games in the month of January, something that has not happened since 2003/04. The most they have ever lost in any calendar month is 3, which has happened only five times in the PSL era.
Black Leopards v Cape Town City
9 – City have conceded at least one goal in nine consecutive league games from Matchday 3 to Matchday 11 this season, their joint-longest run without a clean sheet (also Matchday 3 to Matchday 11 in 2019/20).
Maritzburg United v TS Galaxy
4 – TS Galaxy have not won any of their last nine league games, the longest winless run by any all top-flight team this season.
Stellenbosch v Baroka
2 – The only league double that Stellenbopsch completed in their first top flight season (2019/20) came against sides from Limpopo province (v Baroka & Polokwane).
SuperSport v AmaZulu
11 – SuperSport are on a run of 11 home matches in the league without defeat (W8 D3), equalling their longest unbeaten run at home in the PSL (11 also in 2011 & 2017). Indeed, it has been exactly one year since they lost a match at home in any competition (19 January 2020, v Sundowns).
Swallows FC v Chippa
4 – Swallows FC have scored four goals from the penalty spot in the league this season, more than any other side.
A win by any margin on Wednesday will send Swallows top of the league.
By Opta Jabu