Adelaide United (3rd) v Brisbane Roar (7th)
As if there wasn’t already enough drama at Brisbane Roar this season, club captain Matt Smith has decided to join Thai club Bangkok Glass. Following Smith’s 112 appearances for the Roar, all of them in the starting XI, it appears he will start his final match on the bench as Dutch manager, Frans Thijssen, drafts in James Donachie in his place. The Roar will need to buck up their ideas for this game after a limp 1-0 defeat at struggling Melbourne City. It’s fair to say that Adelaide United are fairing much better than their guests following a comfortable 2-0 win over 10-man Western Sydney. The Reds amassed some incredible stats in that game with 21 shots on goal and 80% possession of the ball but manager, Joseph Gombau, was still critical of his side’s wastefulness in front of goal. With Broich not back until next year, Roar do look starved of options in an attacking sense. Adelaide United are playing the best football in the country at the moment and I cannot see them slipping up here.
Nick’s prediction: Adelaide United 3-0 Brisbane Roar
Perth Glory (1st) v Newcastle Jets (9th)
The noose underneath Phil Stubbins’ prominent chin seems to be getting tighter by the week. The rookie Jets manager seems none the wiser as to why his side’s not performing to the levels expected after slipping to a 3-1 home defeat to Wellington Phoenix. A training ground bust-up between players, midweek, shows that tension is building in and around the club. In contrast, the moral in the Perth camp could not be higher following a come from behind 2-1 win in Sydney, consolidating their position at the top of the table. The Jets will hope that Perth have one eye on their FFA Cup final clash (against Adelaide United) on Tuesday otherwise they could be in for a mauling.
Nick’s prediction: Perth Glory 3-1 Newcastle Jets
Wellington Phoenix (5th) v Central Coast Mariners (8th)
Phil Moss welcomed the return of veteran striker Matt Simon, last week, but stated that the Mariners are on the lookout for a striker following the departure of Malick Mane. Central Coast are the lowest scorers (5 goals in 9 matches) in the A-League and their meekness in front of goal was evident again in the 3-0 loss to Melbourne Victory. Wellington continue to impress this season as a potent, attacking force when a devastating 5 minute period turned the game on its head in Newcastle – the Phoenix eventually running out 3-1 victors. Despite just a single win so far this season, I sense that the Mariners are not too far from stringing a few wins together. They have a fine recent record in Wellington. I give the visitors a fighting chance to get a result here, especially if they can blunt the influence of ex-Mariner, Michael McGlinchey.
Nick’s prediction: Wellington Phoenix 1-2 Central Coast
Melbourne Victory (2nd) v Sydney FC (4th)
A month ago, these sides played out a remarkable scoreless draw when on another day it could have ended in a goal fest. What does the Big Blue have in store for us this time round? Since that encounter, the Victory have gone on a three game winning streak, most recently accounting for the Mariners (3-0) in a devastating display of efficiency in front of goal. Sydney’s form line is much more blurred with a win, a draw, and a 2-1 defeat to Perth Glory, last week, opening a 4pt gap between themselves and 3rd placed Adelaide United. Both managers expect to have some key personnel available with Guy Finkler returning for the hosts while Janko and Ognenovski return to bolster the Sky Blues. The form book usually goes out the window for these sort of fixtures but it’s key that Sydney get a result otherwise the top two spots may well be out of reach – even at this early stage of the season.
Nick’s prediction: Melbourne Victory 1-1 Sydney FC