Newcastle Jets (8th) v Brisbane Roar (9th)
The heat is on! Rumors of unrest in the Roar camp now seem justified as Stefanutto confronted stand-in keeper Jamie Young, following the disappointing 3-1 defeat to Melbourne City. That was the reigning champions forth consecutive defeat – the worst start by any side in A-League history! The Newcastle Jets will aim to take advantage of Brisbane’s situation following a respectable 2-2 draw against high-flying Melbourne Victory. Roar gaffer, Mike Mulvey, faces several selection headaches as both preferred right full-backs, Donarchie and Hingert, are unavailable while Matt McKay is on international duty. There’s no doubt the Jets will pile on the pressure in an attempt to break down Roar’s passing game which should hand the home side the initiative.
Nick’s prediction: Newcastle Jets 2-1 Brisbane Roar
Adelaide United (4th) v Wellington Phoenix (5th)
Adelaide United will look to back up just 3 days after progressing through to the final of the FFA Cup. A strong starting XI saw off the challenge of Central Coast after an impressive first half performance set the foundation for a relatively comfortable 3-2 win. In their most recent outing, Wellington ran over the top of a sluggish Western Sydney Wanderers outfit (1-0) to record an impressive third league win of the season. The Phoenix’s resources will be put to the test for this contest as no less than four players are away on international duty with the All Whites. In addition, right-wing back Louis Fenton, dislocated his troublesome shoulder once again which is a big blow for the visitors. Wellington’s most recent away defeat against a depleted Melbourne Victory side sticks well in the memory. A similar listless performance and this one could get nasty.
Nick’s prediction: Adelaide United 2-0 Wellington Phoenix
Sydney FC (3rd) v Melbourne Victory (2nd)
Will he or won’t he? The talk of the town all week has been about Sydney’s midfielder, Terry Antonis, who was initially selected for Socceroos duty but was involved in an accident while driving himself to the airport. The Sky Blues have deemed the player fit enough to play but he is ineligible due to FIFA rules. He, and a host of other players from both sides are absent (due to international duty and injury) which takes away slightly from what is one of the ‘blue ribbon’ fixtures on the A-League calendar. Sydney look the more settled side with their back line and midfield largely unaffected while one of their most impressive performers to date, Alex Brosque, returns from the treatment table. Victory lose captain Mark Milligan to Socceroos duty while Kevin Muscat is forced into a raft of changes in the full-back positions with Murnane and Broxham expected to fill in. I expect a tight and tense affair with perhaps the home side just edging it.
Nick’s prediction: Sydney FC 1-0 Melbourne Victory
Perth Glory (1st) v Western Sydney Wanderers (10th)
Who would of thought? 5 games in and Perth are league leaders while the Champions of Asia are holding up the table. Both sides have clocked up the air miles in recent weeks. Perth traveled to Melbourne on Wednesday, accounting for VPL side Bentleigh Greens (3-0) and progressing through to the FFA Cup final. Just 3 days prior, they were in A-League action in Gosford where they were deserving 1-0 winners against Central Coast. Western Sydney are still basking in the glory of their landmark feat in Asia and it showed last Sunday. A weakened side were overrun by a fitter and sharper Wellington outfit, going down 1-0 to a second-half Nathan Burns strike. Western Sydney has never lost to Perth Glory since they came into existence in season 2012-13. If Tony Popovic picks a strong side, I expect the visitors to come away with at least a point.
Nick’s prediction: Perth Glory 1-1 Western Sydney
Melbourne City (6th) v Central Coast Mariners (7th)
Life after David Villa isn’t too bad after all! Last weekend, Melbourne City proved that they’re not a one man team as they blitzed embattled club Brisbane Roar, 3-1. To be perfectly honest, Brisbane played into their hands with their high defensive line and sluggish back tracking in transition but City got their tactics just right. Central Coast are sure to prove a more stubborn opponent despite their average start to the season. The Mariners will aim to shake off Wednesday’s FFA Cup disappointment. Phil Stubbins made a host of changes for that game against Adelaide United and is expected to bring Caceres, Fitzgerald, Trifiro, Poscoliero and Bosnar back into his starting XI. City will be without their most influential player, midfielder Aaron Mooy, who is on Socceroos duty. Brisbane Roar reject, Liam Miller, is likely to take Mooy’s place. The Mariners have performed well in spurts this season and could very well cause an upset here if City aren’t on top of their game.
Nick’s prediction: Melbourne City 1-2 Central Coast