SJK v VPS
SJK’s inconsistent season continues, loitering around the halfway mark with the table split imminent and following up an impressive win against KuPS with a tetchy 0-1 defeat to HJK. The squad has come into the final stages of 2022 weaker than when it started and the return of Mosa Yaghoubi so far has failed to ignite, he was substituted last weekend when a red card was more likely than any inspiration. Striker Jake Jervis scored against KuPS but has otherwise been poor for a few weeks, he’ll be looking at this game as the best chance to get back into form and help confirm a place in the top six for his side.
This derby has a lot riding on it, with VPS still not completely safe from a relegation play-off and a disappointing 1-1 draw with HIFK to forget. Despite the relatively free scoring forward line, the defence continue to allow plenty of chances and it’s not often this HIFK side regret dropping points. Failing to beat teams below them is looking costly and they need to get the rest of the team scoring again to reduce the burden on Kalle Multanen, Tete Yengi shanked a fantastic chance on Sunday and won’t get many easier, but he misses this game due to a suspension.
SJK have missed hosting local rivals in recent years and this is the first meeting of these two in Seinajoki since 2019, so a good atmosphere should be on display. It’s hard to see VPS winning the fixture but they’re a dangerous side going forward when they click and with Inter overtaking SJK thanks to a previous forfeit, the pressure is on.
KuPS v Ilves
A disappointing August for KuPS ended with some joy – but they haven’t made it easy. A 95th minute winner against Inter, heavily aided by a goalkeeper error, was followed by a tight 0-1 win in the Cup semi-final at Lahti with ten men. The performances have shown little of the control and precision seen earlier in the year and the uncertainty around the position of coach Simo Valakari hasn’t helped. The only goal in the cup win came from Janis Ikaunieks, returning after suspension while Tim Vayrynen’s prolific form has dipped and the signing of Filip Valencic has failed to ease his workload. Centre half Paulo Ricardo is suspended, he was subject to interest from Besiktas this week but no move was confirmed, while first choice keeper Johannes Kriedl is also banned after a red card for handball against SJK.
Ilves meanwhile look consigned to the bottom six after losing at home to Haka last weekend. Their attacking options were boosted by a debut goal from Bermuda striker Djair Parfitt-Williams, but they looked unconvincing in conceding three goals and only one win in eight is the result. They’re unlikely to get too many chances against KuPS, although Petteri Pennanen will be keen to score against his former club. Pennanen and young defender Tuomas Ollila have been the rare sparks this season with most of the other foreign signings failing to have a big impact. The business model of selling their best prospects appears to have slowed, while the form of HJK loanees Katz and Meriluoto has tailed off after a decent start.
With Honka losing in midweek, this is a huge opportunity for KuPS to get ahead of HJK with their two rivals playing each other in the final match of the regular season, but they need goals.
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