With a good chunk of the UAE Pro League regular season well underway, the usual suspects are in contention to go all the way in 2022.
Currently, only nine points separate the top four sides in the division, suggesting that the title race is very much open, with high-flying Al Ain the side to beat so far this term.
Sitting on the periphery are last season’s champions Al Jazira, who are yet to find their best form this term and now have games in hand following their appearance at the FIFA Club World Cup.
Matchday 15 saw 12 of the 14 teams in the league doing battle, and with only 10 goals scored from the six games played, it was a rather attritional round of fixtures in the UAE Pro League.
Both Sharjah and Al Dhafra had plenty to play for at the Sharjah Stadium, but it was the hosts who came out on top and solidified their hold on third place in the table.
The game’s key moment came bang on the half-hour mark, as young Guinean Ousmane Camara opened the scoring to put Sharjah in full control.
Both sides looked dangerous at times during the match, but Sharjah held on for the win and remain third, seven points behind Al Ain at the top of the table, while Al Dhafra are still 12th, with just 10 points to their name so far this term.
Games at all levels can be decided by individual brilliance and costly mistakes, and Al Wasl’s win at Khor Fakkan was a stark reminder of those footballing facts.
In a tight opening exchange, it was a very cagey affair before Egyptian Abdalla Al Refaey was shown a red card for Khor Fakkan, handing the initiative over to the visitors.
It took them until the 71st minute to cash in, with Uruguayan Michel Araújo making the hosts pay to seal a big win for Al Wasl, who move up to sixth in the UAE Pro League table as a result.
Getting the results is crucial for any side hoping to win titles, and Al Wahda found a way to get the job done at Baniyas.
There was very little to split the two teams throughout this contest, with Fares Juma Al Saadi getting the decisive goal for Al Wahda on the stroke of half-time.
Consequently, Al Wahda remain second, within touching distance of Al Ain at the top of the table, with Baniyas seemingly languishing down in eighth place.
Al Ain, who are currently at the top of the table, looked in imperious form once more. They secured a thumping win on the road at Emirates.
In a classic top versus bottom encounter, Emirates were not without their chances, but with 27 shots racked up in the game, Al Ain never looked threatened.
Goals from Danilo Arboleda, Ahmed Barman and Kodjo Fo-Doh Laba ultimately sealed a comprehensive win for Al Ain – who now have a six-point gap to the chasing pack behind them.
Two sides who are battling it out at the wrong end of the table ended up sharing the points in a dramatic encounter between Al Urooba and Al Nasr.
The visitors looked to be heading for a potentially precious three points as veteran French striker Sebastián Tagliabué looked to have sealed a valuable win for Al Nasr on the road.
Al Urooba, however, showed all their fighting spirit and battled until the dying embers to clinch a 96th-minute equalizer through Mohammed Khalfan, and the points were ultimately shared.
It could well be a case of reflecting on two points dropped for Shabab Al Alhi, as they came away from their trip to Ajman with just a point on the board.
A sloppy start from the visitors allowed Ajman to take full advantage as Gambian winger Bubacarr Trawally coolly slotted home a penalty to give Ajman the lead.
Shabab Al Alhi fought back hard in the second half and replied through Ahmad Nourollahi, but they couldn’t find a winner and as such remain in fourth place in the UAE Pro League table.