Mamelodi Sundowns host Orlando Pirates in the first PSL league game of 2021, looking to consolidate their position at the top of the DSTV Premiership table.
The defending league and Nedbank Cup champions will clash with the recently crowned MTN8 champions on Saturday afternoon (15:30). Both sides hope to send an early New Year message to the rest of the division that they mean business this season, given that there are fewer local matches that have a high profile as this.
49 – This will be the 49th clash between the two sides, joining Chiefs-Downs,
Pirates-Supersport and Supersport-Chiefs as the joint-most played fixture in the PSL era.
The two teams are yet to lose a league game this season, with Sundowns’ MTN8 loss to Celtic their only bleep in an otherwise stellar campaign. Going back to last season, they are both unbeaten in exactly ten league games each, with Sundowns’ run (Won 7 Drew 3) slightly better than Pirates run (Won 6 Drew 4). That said, Pirates’ perfect MTN8 run (Won 4 out of 4) means they have gone 15 games without a loss, but Zinnbauer’s men will know that Sundowns away is the ultimate test for their title credentials.
19 – Sundowns have beaten Pirates more times in the PSL era than any other side (W19 D15 L14 in the league). One of those defeats was a 6-0 defeat in February 2017, but since then, Sundowns have scored just one goal in the subsequent three home matches against Pirates. On the other
hand, the Buccaneers haven’t lost to Sundowns at all since November 2017, currently the longest that Sundowns have gone without beating a top-flight side.
5 – The five game unbeaten run Pirates have enjoyed in the last few years (W2 D3) is also the joint-best run for Pirates in this league fixture in the PSL era (5 unbeaten also 2002-2004, 2010-2012).
The defending champions will begin 2021 ominously at the top of the league, the first time since 2017 that they spend Christmas and New Year at the top of the table. They went on to win the title on the two previous occasions that they led at Christmas as well. Be that as it may, Sundowns were top at New Year in 2011 and 2012 as well, but the ending was
2 – Sundowns were top of the league on New Year’s Day in 2011 and 2012, but Pirates won the title on both occasions.
Yet, Downs have opened their years on a strong note of late. Sundowns have lost the first match of a calendar year just once in the last six years, drawing one but winning the other four. Pirates, meanwhile, have won the first match of the calendar year just once in the last 5
years, drawing the other four. Another draw would not come as a surprise:
1 – The last four league meetings between the sides have produced just one goal, the joint lowest scoring fixture that has been played since 2018/19 (Arrows-Pirates also one goal
Maritzburg v Celtic
Maritzburg have failed to win any of their last 14 league matches, equalling their worst such run as a top-flight club (14 also in 2018/19). They host Celtic on Saturday evening, and will be banking on their strong record to overcome Celtic.
1 – Maritzburg have lost one of their last ten home matches against Celtic in the league, a record going to 2012 (W5 D4), with the 10% loss ratio their lowest against any opponent in
that time (minimum 4 games).
By Opta Jabu