A look ahead to the weekend’s Danske Bank Premiership matches
Linfield manager David Healy will be hoping his side can bounce back immediately from their 3-0 Boxing Day defeat to Glentoran when they travel to Coleraine today (3pm).
Both teams enter the contest level on 43 points with Linfield sitting second in the table on goal difference after Cliftonville went top by one point following a 2-1 away win at Crusaders.
The Glentoran defeat brought an end to Linfield’s five game unbeaten league run, but boss Healy sees this game as a great chance to bounce back from that disappointment.
“This is a big game at Coleraine - the players are disappointed and I’m disappointed with the Boxing Day result but not the level of performance,” he said.
“The good thing about football is that you always have the chance to rebound and that comes quickly against Coleraine.”
Coleraine picked up three points against Ballymena on Thursday after goals from Josh Carson and Jamie Glackin helped them to a 2-0 win.
That was the Bannsiders first league win in five matches and they will have confidence heading into the clash following a 3-0 cup victory over Linfield earlier this month.
Oran Kearney’s side have also picked up two league victories against the Blues this season, with a 4-2 triumph at Windsor Park before a 1-0 home win in October.
New league leaders Cliftonville will host Larne at Solitude - a side they drew 1-1 with in a hotly-contested match at the same venue only last month.
Forward Conor McMenamin has been in fine form in recent weeks, following up his winner against Coleraine with a brace on Boxing Day.
Cliftonville last won the league title in the 2013/14 season and manager Paddy McLaughlin is expecting yet another tough fixture with Larne.
“Larne were excellent that day against us up there and I expect the same again,” he said.
“But the way we’re playing we should be capable of taking anyone on.”
Glentoran will also be in action as they look to build on their win over Linfield when Ballymena United visit The Oval.
Mick McDermott’s outfit are on an incredible 11 game unbeaten run and currently sit in fourth, but they are only three points off top spot.
Their first league win of the season came against Ballymena back in August with a 2-1 success and they also picked up three points against the same opposition in October.
Despite such a fruitful run, McDermott is keeping his players feet on the ground but praised their efforts last time out.
“It’s one in a row,” he said.
“That’s what I tell the players. I don’t care how many games it is, I tell the players it’s one in a row.
“There will be no stupid talk in our dressing room – not a chance.
“I reminded the boys before the game our aim from the outset (the beginning of the season) was to be competitive, make teams worry about playing Glentoran and make teams suffer at the Oval.
“They work hard, they are disciplined and they go out on to the pitch in the frame of mind they have to do better. And, it paid dividends, because none of them were overawed by the big occasion.”
Elsewhere, Crusaders will welcome Dungannon Swifts to Seaview with both teams looking to bounce back from a winless spell.
Crusaders are without a league victory since a comprehensive 6-1 defeat of Dungannon on November 30 while Swifts have failed to pick up three points in their last three matches.
Glenavon, who beat Dungannon 5-0 on Boxing Day, will host bottom side Warrenpoint, who got only their fourth win of the campaign against Institute on Thursday thanks to an Eamon Scannell strike.
Institute will also be in action today when they take on Carrick Rangers.