Russian Premier League table-toppers Zenit St. Petersburg heads to Akhmat Grozny on Saturday eyeing a fifth title with four games still to play. Zenit is eight points clear of second-placed Lokomotiv Moscow, the defending champion who needs to win away at Arsenal Tula to keep alive its slim chances of retaining the title.
Krasnodar, who beat CSKA Moscow 2-0 last week, sit third, three points further back. Zenit needs just a point to get an automatic qualification for next season's Champions League, its main goal this season. But the Saint Petersburg outfit, in the hunt for its first domestic title in four years, is gearing up to extend their four-match winning streak at Grozny. "We're all focused on the upcoming match at Grozny," manager Sergei Semak told the club web site. "The win there may bring us a title if Lokomotiv will lose points at Tula. But first of all, we must focus on our own performance to avoid any unpleasant surprises."
Lokomotiv may still be in title contention has a worrying injury list. "We still have title aspirations as we still are the reigning champions," Lokomotiv press service quoted coach Yury Syomin as saying. "In the upcoming games, we will experience serious problems in defense as we've missed a number of first-line players through injuries including two full backs and two defensive midfielders." "Zenit is unlikely to squander their solid advantage but we will continue to battle as an automatic qualification for the Champions League is at stake." Krasnodar, who has been inconsistent since the league resumed from the winter break, will have to pass a tough test in the southern derby with Rostov on Sunday.