Sydney FC (5th) v Newcastle Jets (9th)
This is the first meeting between the sides this season. After a good start, Sydney FC’s form has stalled with their last win coming back in late November at Melbourne City. On Tuesday, the Sky Blues did at least keep their undefeated away record intact with a scoreless draw in Brisbane. After taking tiny steps forward with creditable performances in recent weeks, Newcastle has now retreated back to square one after a terrible 5-2 loss to Melbourne City. City’s marquee signing, Robert Koren, scored a hat-trick on his full debut as the visitors ran rampant against a disorganized and at times disinterested Jets outfit. With their dismal record at Allianz Stadium, Sydney FC will probably be glad that this game will be played in Wollongong. I expect the Sky Blues to have too much firepower today.
Nick’s prediction: Sydney FC 2-0 Newcastle Jets
Wellington Phoenix (3rd) v Brisbane Roar (7th)
I think it is now safe to say that Wellington are legitimate title contenders following their convincing 3-1 win in Adelaide. No Nathan Burns or Roy Krishna? No problem! The Phoenix showed they have the depth to go all the way this season with Cunningham and Boyd stepping in seamlessly for the aforementioned. Roar’s struggles continued at Suncorp with a dour scoreless draw against Sydney FC. In stifling conditions, neither side really got out of second gear. There was an injury scare for the returning Luke Brattan as he went off early with a hamstring complaint while Adam Sarota looked to be short on match fitness. Brisbane has a fine record against Wellington in recent campaigns but a lot of changes (in personnel) have taken place in both camps since the start of the season. Brisbane remain without their inspirational captain, Matt McKay, so I expect Wellington’s impressive midfield to easily take control of proceedings in what will be Jeremy Brockie’s last game.
Nick’s prediction: Wellington Phoenix 3-0 Brisbane Roar
Central Coast (8th) v Melbourne City (6th)
Is Melbourne City ready to fulfill their potential? Following the 5-2 demolition of Newcastle Jets on Tuesday, the City faithful are licking their lips in anticipation as new boy Robert Koren scored a hat-trick and seemed to have a telepathic understanding with his team mates. Perhaps they face a sterner test against the Mariners who have managed two draws in their last two games, including a scoreless stalemate in Western Sydney on Thursday. The extra two day rest could prove vital for the visitors with temperatures of around 30 degrees predicted during the course of the match. In the last month, the Mariners have conceded 11 goals in four games including heavy defeats against Melbourne Victory (0-3) and Perth Glory (4-1). They could be on the end of another hiding here.
Nick’s prediction: Central Coast 1-3 Melbourne City
Perth Glory (1st) v Adelaide United (4th)
Perth Glory’s perfect home record of six games for six wins comes under considerable threat when they host bogey side, Adelaide United. The Reds are the only outfit to turn over the league leaders this season – not once but twice! The big one of course was the FFA Cup Final just 3 weeks ago (Adelaide 1-0 winners on that evening) but this will be their first encounter out West. Even so, this has upset written all over it with Perth backing up just 3 days after accounting for the Victory in Geelong, on Friday. Perth seemed to tire quite noticeably in the second half so I expect their stamina to be tested to the max against a well rested United outfit. In addition to a further two days to prepare for this game (following a disappointing 3-1 defeat to Wellington), Adelaide welcome back some key figures from injury and suspension. If names like Carrusca and Malik are in the visitors’ starting XI, I expect them to come away with at least a point.
Nick’s prediction: Perth Glory 0-1 Adelaide United
Western Sydney (10th) v Melbourne Victory (3rd)
Fan unrest, talk of players not pulling their weight in training, disappointing on-field performances ..it is safe to say that the Wanderers are in desperate need of a win. On Thursday, Western Sydney’s scoreless draw against the Mariners was their 4th consecutive outing without finding the back of the net. Melbourne Victory themselves are coming off a poor result, going down 2-1 to league leaders Perth Glory. Victory were made to pay for their sloppy start, conceding twice in the opening 16 minutes with Leijer at fault for the first and Nathan Coe too overzealous for the second. The second half performance though was encouraging for Kevin Muscat’s men and he will hope they can carry that form into this one. The Wanderers continue to be without key players as Spiranovic and Juric are away on international duty while marquee player, Vitor Saba, seems to be on the way out of the club. Victory regain the services of their most influential player, Ben Khalfallah, who returns from suspension. The Tunisian’s return in addition to Besart Berisha’s impressive second half showing against Perth has me siding with the visitors for this one.
Nick’s prediction: Western Sydney 1-2 Melbourne Victory