“Attack wins you games. Defence wins you titles.” – Sir Alex Ferguson.
The legendary former Manchester United manager once claimed this, alluding to the fact
that a strong defence is the best foundation to winning a football league title.
In the PSL era (23 seasons), the side that has conceded the least goals has ended up as champion on twelve occasions times. That’s hardly a strong case. Kaizer Chiefs even hold the record for the number of times a team had the best defence but failed to win the title (7).
But when you consider that the team with the best defence has won the league on more
occasions (12) than the team with the best attack (10), then the case for a strong defense winning titles starts to sound better. For Chiefs, having the strongest defense could be a
good omen, given that:
4 – On all four occasions that Chiefs have won the PSL league title, they had conceded the fewest goals (2004,2005,2013,2013).
Chiefs v Maritzburg
A clash of defences
After Wednesday’s clean sheet against Wits, Maritzburg joined Kaizer Chiefs as one of only
two PSL sides that have reached ten clean sheets in the league this season. Tinkler’s men
visit FNB Stadium this evening (18:00) aiming to extend a good run of form in which they’ve lost just one of their last ten league games.
Since the start of December, Maritzburg have actually won more points in the league than any other PSL team except Orlando Pirates (20). The PSL title may be too far for them, but their defence is as formidable as a title-winning defence, and is probably the best in the league away from home.
7 – Maritzburg have kept seven clean sheets away from home this season, more than any
other PSL side.
To keep up those clean sheets, the Team of Choice will have to stop the incredible Chiefs
striking pair led by Samir Nurkovic and Leonardo Castro. With 20 goals coming from
set-piece situations and 15 goals from headers, the path for any team to stop Chiefs scoring
seems simple – defend set pieces. Yet, what is simple is not necessarily easy.
The 38 goals Chiefs have scored in 19 games (average 2 goals per game) is the joint-best
goalscoring return of any Chiefs side after 19 games of a league season in the PSL era. A
goal this Saturday and Chiefs would set a new PSL record:
15 – Chiefs have scored at least one goal in 14 consecutive league matches. A goal against
Maritzburg will mean scoring in 15 successive games for the first time in the PSL era.
Baroka v Wits
With less than 90 days to go till the end of the league season, Bidvest Wits have a lot of
catching up to do with other sides. Due mainly to continental commitments, they have played
just 16 games this season, five less than some teams. Sundowns (18), Chiefs (19) and Celtic (19) are the only other sides to have played less than 20 league games.
The penalty shootout victory over Pirates last weekend was rightfully hailed as a show of character by many, chief among them Gavin Hunt. But that victory is still sandwiched between two league defeats, the first time they’ve lost back to back league games this season.
Baroka will be hoping to continue that run of league defeats for Wits, but they’ll have to do something that has never happened under Hunt.
2012 – Wits have not lost three successive games in the league under Gavin Hunt, last
losing three in a row in March/April 2012.
Victory for Baroka would ensure they complete a rare league double over Wits after beating
the Students earlier in the season.
2 – Baroka have only completed the league double over one side in the top-flight (when they beat Polokwane City last month).
Sundowns v Chippa
0 – Ever since they joined the top-flight, Chippa have never beaten Mamelodi Sundowns in
the league (Played 13 Won 0 Drew 6 Lost 7).
Sundowns are the only opponent they’ve faced
over a full season and never beaten.
Highlands Park v Bloemfontein Celtic
0 – Celtic have never kept a clean sheet against Highlands Park in the PSL era (Played 5).
The Lions of the North are the only PSL opponent currently in the PSL that has never failed to score against Siwelele.
Amazulu v Golden Arrows
5 – AmaZulu have scored only 5 goals at home all season, the fewest of all PSL sides.
2 – Under Steve Komphela, Arrows have won just 2 games away from home, drawing seven
and losing the other seven. They’ve never scored more than one goal in an away game under Komphela.
By Opta Jabu