Aleksandr Kerzhakov (L) and Danko Lazovic of FC Zenit St. Petersburg celebrate after scoring a goal during the Russian Premier League match between FC Zenit St. Petersburg and FC Rostov. (Photo by Kirill Kudryavtsev/Epsilon/Getty Images)
Zenit St. Petersburg travel to Moscow to face CSKA Moscow on Saturday, where they are expected to select their first team despite their gap at the top of the table and looming Champions League football.
As the Russian Premier League resumes following their long winter layoff, Zenit St. Petersburg are in a terrific position to repeat as league champions. They're eight points clear at the top of the table and nine points clear of Saturday's opposition, CSKA Moscow. They're coming off of a win over Benfica in the Champions League, and they've brought in Andrei Arshavin to replace the injured Danny.
Arshavin appears poised to start for Zenit, the club he left for Arsenal back in 2009. While much of the personnel has changed since Arshavin departed, he will be familiar with all of the midfielders, as well as captain Aleksandr Anyukov. It's not likely to take him too long to build chemistry with Aleksandr Kerzhakov. Danny's injury seemed crippling to Zenit at the time, but the addition of Arshavin should help them to stay top of the table through the rest of the season.
CSKA are coming off of a draw against Real Madrid, and they will be aware that anything but three points from this match is likely to take them completely out of the race for the title. Behind Zenit, the race for second spot and a Champions League place will be fierce, and CSKA can't afford any slip-ups.
Keisuke Honda is questionable for CSKA, so Ahmed Musa or Thomas Necid will start, and it's possible that both could play. Zoran Tosic is more likely to start on the right than Sekou Oliseh after the latter traveled to play with Liberia during the international break. New signing Pontus Wernbloom will be a key player for CSKA, as he will be up against Konstantin Zyryanov and Roman Shirokov, two excellent central midfield players, for the duration of the match.
In their match at the Luzhniki Stadium during the first phase of the tournament, CSKA lost to Zenit in a very poor performance. They were better at the Petrovsky Stadium, where they drew 1-1. CSKA are slight favorites due to their home advantage and Danny's injury, but Zenit will like their chances to nick a point, which is all they need.
Game Date/Time: Saturday, March 3, 7:00 a.m. ET, 3:00 p.m. local
Venue: Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia