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Anticipation abounds forward of this week’s restart of the 2023-2024 Roshn Saudi Professional League.

The six-week interlude for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup noticed managerial modifications, eye-catching participant acquisitions and noteworthy exits.

Arab Information supplies a breakdown of the 16 golf equipment as they head into Thursday’s resumption, together with their key winter enterprise and outlook for the 15 remaining matchweeks.

Partly one, we take a look at the golf equipment occupying the primary 9 positions.

 

1. Al-Hilal

Factors 53

Objectives scored/conceded 59-9

Season up to now: The foremost harm to Neymar apart, this marketing campaign couldn’t be going any higher.

Their different huge summer season additions have all contributed considerably — Serbia hitman Aleksandar Mitrovic has struck 17 occasions, and Salem Al-Dawsari is placing in shows worthy of being AFC Participant of the Yr. As well as, it’s like returning head coach Jorge Jesus has by no means been away, and November’s 9-0 thrashing of Al-Hazem was the division’s largest win.

Main winter modifications: With an assault firing on all cylinders even with out Neymar, a measured name was made to bolster defensive ranks with the addition of Marseille and Brazil fullback Renan Lodi.

Outlook: In brief, Hilal look unstoppable on this quest to regain their crown. Final week they registered a 2-0 victory versus Al-Nassr within the Riyadh Season Cup. A 12-match top-flight successful run has opened up a seven-point lead, whereas they boast the very best protection and assault. They need to navigate away-trips to nearest challengers Nassr and Al-Ahli.

 

2. Al-Nassr

Factors 46

Objectives scored/conceded 55-23

Season up to now: A gap pair of league defeats had set alarm bells ringing. However the summer season choice to rent Luis Castro has confirmed to be an impressed one. The Brazilian has orchestrated 56 purpose contributions from a fearsome attacking trio of Cristiano Ronaldo, Sadio Mane and Talisca, with Marcelo Brozovic and Aymeric Laporte including defensive high quality. The one severe blemish was December’s 3-0 derby humbling at Hilal, which had seen a second-half collapse.

Main winter modifications: The mortgage of Aziz Behich from Melbourne Metropolis raised eyebrows. Additionally, both the skilled Australia left-back or harm susceptible returning Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina will take the place of departed Ivory Coast midfielder Seko Fofana. The latter was a part of a trio of mid-season exits to Ettifaq, alongside winger Khalid Al-Ghannam and Saudi Arabia center-back Abdullah Madu.

Outlook: With the ageless Ronaldo on the prime of scoring (20) and assists (9), something is feasible. A return of 46 factors from the final 51 reveals they are going to be there, if imperious Hilal ever begin slipping.

 

3. Al-Ahli

Factors 40

Objectives scored/conceded 41-19

Season up to now: This season was at all times going to be a piece in progress due to a heralded top-flight return, the injection of world-class signings and the visionary rent of younger German supervisor Matthias Jaissle. Al-Ahli’s four-match successful begin belied their winter struggles to come back.

However a near-perfect December witnessed issues click on underneath their ex-Purple Bull Salzburg tactician. The affect of the Ivory Coast’s Africa Cup of Nations inspiration Franck Kessie is palpable. As well as, Algeria famous person Riyad Mahrez has 15 purpose contributions and Saudi Arabia striker Firas Al-Buraikan headed into the break with 5 targets in his final 5 league outings — made very important by ex-Liverpool famous person Roberto Firmino’s disappointing output.

Main winter modifications: Not relevant.

Outlook: A nine-point hole to Jeddah rivals Al-Ittihad means these promoted giants are effectively positioned to carry on for qualification to the inaugural AFC Champions League elite. They need to showcase how the youthful and visionary Jaissle can carry them even additional in 2024-2025.

 

4. Al-Taawoun

Factors 34

Objectives scored/conceded 32-22

Season so far: One other marketing campaign as darkish horses underneath the ingenious Pericles Chamusca continues. A flood of summer season exits ultimately time period’s fifth-placed finishers didn’t derail them. As an alternative, we’ve witnessed former Al-Wahda goal man Joao Pedro netting ceaselessly upon his return to the Kingdom. As well as, former Nantes defender Andrei Girotto represents a rock on the again alongside Saudi Arabia breakout Awn Al-Saluli, and Nagoya Grampus-import Mateus has registered 4 targets and assists. Ending December with two defeats supplies a observe of warning, nonetheless.

Main winter modifications: Key Spanish midfielder Alvaro Medran departed to Ettifaq, with the mercurial Mohammed Al-Kuwaykibi amongst these making the other journey. Argentine playmaker Cristian Guanca has a brand new non permanent dwelling, on mortgage from Al-Shabab.

Outlook: It seems an enormous ask to gatecrash the highest three, however Chamusca’s ambition and software makes this a risk.

 

5. Al-Ittihad

Factors 31

Objectives scored/conceded 37-26

Season up to now: This has been a title protection to neglect. The fanfare that greeted the summer season arrivals of Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante and Fabinho has not translated onto the pitch. Nuno Espirito Santo departed in November and his substitute Marcelo Gallardo has taken simply seven factors from 18. They’re a facet struggling within the transition from defensive soccer to an expansive outlook. A 3-0 victory final week towards Al-Tai — rescheduled due to Al-Ittihad’s early FIFA Membership World Cup exit — does maintain promise.

Main winter modifications: A free switch granted to Brazilian assist-machine Igor Coronado ought to enable fit-again Egypt colossus Ahmed Hegazi to be re-registered after severe harm. Al-Shabab fullback Fawaz Al-Sqoor has inked a transfer from Al-Shabab when on Asian Cup obligation, whereas Hamed Al-Ghamdi, Ahmed Al-Ghamdi and Saad Al-Mousa have joined on mortgage from Ettifaq; with Abdulrahman Al-Aboud and Haroune Camara transferring the other means.

Outlook: With a lot floor to make up, Gallardo should swiftly showcase the brilliance which made him a triple Copa Libertadores champion.

 

6. Damac

Factors 30

Objectives scored/conceded 35-25

Season up to now: Cosmin Contra’s first full marketing campaign has been vastly spectacular. Fueled by the sensational 14-goal return from ex-Tottenham Hotspur ahead Georges-Kevin Nkoudou, the wiles of Egypt veteran Tarek Hamed and influence of Romania ahead Nicolae Stanciu, an increase from final time period’s eighth place seems obvious. This will probably be some achievement.

Main winter modifications: Not relevant.

Outlook: They’ve Taawoun of their sights for a battle to grow to be the competitors’s better of the remainder.

 

7. Al-Fateh

Factors 29 

Objectives scored/conceded 33-26

Season up to now: One other former Ittihad boss is working wonders within the Kingdom. Slaven Bilic has weathered the late exit of Firas Al-Buraikan, growing a possible Asian famous person in teenager Abbas Al-Hassan, and eliciting pleasure via driving attackers Mourad Batna, Cristian Tello and Lucas Zelaryan. They’ve recorded only one defeat from matchweek 4 to 11.

Main winter modifications: Not relevant.

Outlook: One other facet which have Taawoun and Damac of their sights. A repeat of final time period’s sixth-place end can be commendable.

 

8. Ettifaq

Factors 25

Objectives scored/conceded 22-22

Season up to now: Here’s a supervisor and a squad with a lot to show. Steven Gerrard’s heralded tenure started with goal, together with his victory over Nassr being one in every of 5 from his opening seven RSL video games. The wheels had already began to come back off, nonetheless, earlier than harm to seven-goal French striker Moussa Dembele. They’re at present winless from their final eight matchweeks.

Main winter modifications: This has simply been the busiest facet. A frantic finish to the switch window witnessed Abha raided for Cameroon ahead Karl Toko Ekambi, Taawoun for Medran, and Nassr for Fofana. Worldwide headlines had already been made by England midfielder Jordan Henderson’s departure to Ajax. Brazilian ahead Vitinho (Al-Shabab) and DR Congo center-back Marcel Tisserand (Abha) additionally exited.

Outlook: Gerrard should justify final month’s award of a two-year contract extension regardless of disappointing current outcomes. Superior squad depth has been delivered to him.

 

9. Al-Wehda

Factors 25

Objectives scored/conceded 31-34

Season up to now: A considerably extra snug marketing campaign than final season’s relegation battle. The return of supervisor Giorgios Donis and impactful Australia winger Craig Goodwin have offered sizeable uplift in high quality. Veteran pre-season recruit Odion Ighalo’s 9 targets is already six greater than anybody managed in 2022-2023.

Main winter modifications: Not relevant.

Outlook: Al-Wehda is having fun with mid-table safety. Saudi Arabia ahead Abdulaziz Noor is one to observe, after recording three targets and 5 assists in 18 video games.