Melbourne Victory (3rd) v Adelaide United (2nd)
Following a rather bore 1-1 draw in their first encounter this season, Victory and United have since run into the form that would suggest a cracker is on the cards. Victory has been irresistible this season, especially at home, and that good form continued last Friday with a solid if not unspectacular 1-0 win over Brisbane Roar. Two days later, Adelaide United punished the Central Coast in a 4 minute period when Pablo Sanchez scored a brace just before halftime to put the result beyond doubt. A close contest is expected but it’s hard to look past Victory’s 100% home record this campaign (4 wins from 4). Minus Delpierre, Victory’s defensive stocks are bolstered with the return to fitness of Jason Geria and Nick Ansell while Barbarouses and Milligan are fresh and raring to go following their respective international commitments.
Nick’s prediction: Melbourne Victory 2-0 Adelaide United
Brisbane Roar (8th) v Perth Glory (1st)
Former Dutch international, Frans Thijssen, will aim to make a bold statement in his first game in charge of the Roar as his side take on league leaders Perth. Thijssen was handed the reins earlier this week following the dismissal of English manager Mike Mulvey after a poor run of results. The 1-0 loss to Melbourne Victory was no real surprise but the abject performance (not the first this season) suggested that there were some deep rooted problems at Suncorp. On the other hand, Perth can do no wrong as they strolled to another 2-1 home victory (against the Phoenix). their third on the bounce, to maintain their 1pt advantage over second-placed Adelaide United. As is usually the case when a new manager is appointed, players do seem to respond in a positive manner. Positions are up for grabs and players tend to give that little bit more to stake their claim for a starting berth. In that case, I expect the Roar to be up for this.
Nick’s prediction: Brisbane Roar 2-2 Perth Glory
Western Sydney (10th) v Sydney FC (4th)
Will the real Wanderers please stand up! Western Sydney continue to struggle to change through the gears and that was evident again in the 1-1 stalemate against the Newcastle Jets. The atmosphere was strangely subdued which perhaps suggests that the RBB as well the playing group are suffering a bit of a letdown after the euphoria on the Asian continent. Arch rivals, Sydney FC, will aim to take advantage and I am sure wily old customer, Graham Arnold, will have his chargers primed to do just that. The Sky Blues broke a run of scoreless stalemates with a 2-1 win at Melbourne City. Mark Janko produced a man of the match performance with a brace and his third strike of the season. Going into this match, the visitors will have a tough time replacing creative midfielder, Milos Dimitrijevic, who is suspended after seeing red at AAMI Park last week. This one could go either way but I doubt we will see the 3-2 goal fest of earlier this season.
Nick’s prediction: Western Sydney 1-1 Sydney FC
Wellington Phoenix (5th) v Melbourne City (6th)
Wellington will be glad to be back on home soil following a run of consecutive 2-1 defeats on the road, the last coming at league leaders Perth Glory. The Nix were hardly in that contest until Ruben Zadkovich handed them a lifeline when he was sent off just 17 seconds after coming on as a sub. Nathan Burns had a golden chance to steal a point at the death but it was not to be. That result was proceeded with a loss to Adelaide United so it was a tough little run of games to say the least. The game against City presents a good opportunity to grab 3pts and gain a stranglehold on a top 6 spot, especially if the visitors continue to gift goals. Melbourne City went down 2-1 to Sydney FC in a game that was highlighted by missed opportunities and a real blooper by City defender Rob Wielhart. The experienced Dutchman showed the mettle of an 18-yr old when his misplaced pass fell right at the grateful feet of Mark Janko who made no mistake. Last season, in this corresponding fixture, Melbourne City recorded their biggest ever A-League win in a 5-0 rout. Wellington Phoenix are a different beast this season and I see them taking this one out in a high scoring encounter.
Nick’s prediction: Wellington Phoenix 3-2 Melbourne City
Newcastle Jets (9th) v Central Coast Mariners (7th)
Derby fever hits Hunter Stadium with both arch rivals struggling at the bottom reaches of the A-League table. It’s safe to say that this won’t be one for the football purists. With just one win between them this season, it’s been tough going for these two but green shoots of recovery have been evident in recent weeks. Last Saturday, Newcastle Jets gained a respectable 1-1 draw at Pirtek Stadium against Western Sydney after going a goal behind while the Mariners gave as good as they got against Adelaide United in a 2-0 loss. The Mariners hold the edge in recent H2H outings but the loss of midfield grafter, Nick Montgomery, could be telling after his harsh sending off against Adelaide United. It’s a tough one to call as the Mariners are playing the more fluid football of the two while the Jets have home advantage.
Nick’s prediction: Newcastle Jets 2-2 Central Coast