CSL Preview: Beijing set to pounce on Evergrande
Evergrande lost their derby against Guangzhou R&F last week, which allowed Beijing to draw level on points at the top of the CSL table.
Moroccan striker Abderrazak Hamdallah scored the only goal in R&F's 1-0 victory, cutting inside to blast the ball past Evergrande goalkeeper Zeng Cheng on the hour mark.
Evergrande followed up their derby loss with a 1-0 loss to Cerezo Osaka in the AFC Champions League (ACL) on Tuesday, although they still advanced to the quarter-finals 5-2 on aggregate.
Beijing, currently second on goal difference, will overhaul Evergrande with at least a draw at Shanghai Shenxin on Saturday. And they will remain on top if the title-holders fail to match Guoan's result at Hangzhou on Sunday.
In a boost for Beijing, Hangzhou have a strong home record with just one loss at their Yellow Dragon Sports Center since August, while Shenxin have not won in five games.
Beijing defeated Liaoning Whowin 1-0 last week thanks to a very late penalty from Pablo Batalla.
In the sixth minute of second-half stoppage time, Liaoning's Yang Yu was penalised for handling in the area and Batalla made no mistake from 12 yards.
The win took Beijing to 27 points, level with Evergrande, although the latter have a far superior goal difference.
Batalla looks set to be critical to Beijing's chances, the Argentine attacking midfielder having scored six of his side's 12 goals in the CSL this season.
Ecuadorian striker Joffre Guerron has hit the back of the net four times, although three of his goals have come in the ACL.
If both Beijing and Evergrande falter over the weekend, third-placed R&F could move to within two points of the summit by beating Guizhou Renhe on Sunday.
R&F are on a six-game unbeaten run and will travel to Guizhou hoping to inflict further pain on their hosts, after Renhe were thumped 5-2 by Shanghai SIPG last week.
Shandong Luneng, who slumped to fourth last week after a third straight loss, will hope to bounce back against Shanghai SIPG, while Liaoning host Henan Jianye in a battle of two struggling sides.
In other fixtures, Shanghai Shenhua will travel to Harbin Yiteng, Tianjin Teda face Changchun Yatai and Jiangsu Sainty meet Dalian Aerbin.