. Relegation battle goes from intense to epic
Al-Hazem became the first team to be relegated last week but the rest of the battle to escape the trapdoor is becoming legendary. Almost the entire bottom half of the table can still feel the heat of the relegation zone. There are just three points that separate Al-Taawoun in 10th and Al-Batin in 15th and two of those six teams are going down. Nobody can predict who it will be.
Many desperate teams are picking up points as the intensity of the fight has moved up a notch. Al-Taawoun looked almost doomed but have now won their last two games. Ettifaq have bounced back under new coach Patrice Carteron. Al-Batin are still in serious trouble but have taken seven points from their last four games and now have a fighting chance. Al-Ahli have drawn their last three but that means they are now unbeaten in three while Al-Tai beat the leaders and look to be safe.
The title race may get most of the headlines, but the bottom half is no place for the faint-hearted.
4. Firas Al-Buraikan flying the flag for locals
It is rare to see a Saudi Arabian striker make the top 10 of goal scorers in the league but with two games of the season remaining, Firas Al-Buraikan is there.
The 22-year-old became frustrated about a lack of playing time at Al-Nassr and a move to Al-Fateh is now looking like an inspired one.
His hat-trick against Damac means that he now has 11 for the season and is in the top 10. This is especially welcome to national team coach Herve Renard. His other striker Saleh Al-Shehri is injured and is unlikely to be back before the summer ends, at best.
Another Al-Hilal forward Abdullah Al-Hamdan’s time on the pitch is stop and start at the club. It puts a lot of pressure on the shoulders of Al-Buraikan, but on current form, he looks like he can handle it and is starting to thrive. It can only be good news for fans of the national team ahead of the World Cup.
5. International break adds an extra dimension
There are so many talking points as the season enters its last two rounds.
There is the battle for the top three with Al-Nassr hitting form at the right time and are just two points clear of Al-Shabab. When Al-Shabab let Ighalo join Al-Hilal in January, they were above their Riyadh rivals in the table. That is no longer the case, but Al-Shabab have Carlos. The Brazilian scored twice in a vital 2-0 win at Al-Raed and now has 13 for the season. Such goals mean that they are still in the hunt for a top-three finish.
There are also the fortunes of Al-Ahli. The Jeddah giants just cannot pull away from that relegation trapdoor, but the focus is going to be on the title race and while Al-Hilal are now favorites, there is still time for more twists to come.
Now there are no games for almost three weeks and the teams that handle this period best will be rewarded. There is still time for coaches to earn their salaries and get the results that will mean the title or avoiding relegation.