Melbourne City (7th) v Adelaide United (3rd)
Josh Kennedy will hope to break his scoring duck for Melbourne City as they host the table top chasing Reds. A win for Adelaide United will propel them to the top for at least 24hrs until Perth meet Brisbane tomorrow evening at the NIB. Kennedy’s first half showing in the scoreless draw against current league leaders, Perth Glory, will give the City faithful hope that he can reignite their finals chances. Melbourne City can reclaim 6th spot from Brisbane if they are victorious. The loss though of young gun, Jacob Melling, could leave them a little light against one of the best midfields going around. Adelaide United showed their fighting qualities to overcome a spirited Wanderers outfit as Cirio’s 90th minute strike completed a come-from-behind 2-1 win. The visitors go into this match crippled by injury and suspension with first-choice centre-backs, Malik and Boogard, injured while central midfielder Isaias is suspended. Melbourne City have not registered a goal in their last 3 outings but I expect that to change this evening.
Nick’s prediction: Melbourne City 2-2 Adelaide United
Newcastle Jets (9th) v Central Coast (8th)
After a war of words between both camps in midweek, another tense derby clash is expected between these two great rivals. The Jets are playing for pride and they have shown plenty of it in their last two appearances – drawing against both Western Sydney and Wellington, respectively. While the Central Coast sit just one position (and 5 points) above their hosts, they still harbor hopes of a finals berth with 9 rounds remaining. Despite losing to Sydney FC 4-2 after taking a deserving 1-2 lead, the Mariners can take plenty of heart from last week’s performance – especially after their midweek exertions in the Asian Champions League. The Jets’ physical approach against Wellington came at a cost with both Kantarovski and Hoole suspended for this match. If Fabio Ferreira and the Mariners can replicate some of their good play from last week, then they should have too much for Phil Stubbins’ youthful outfit.
Nick’s prediction: Newcastle Jets 1-3 Central Coast
Western Sydney (10th) v Sydney FC (5th)
The Wanderers will be buoyed going into this big clash after they began their defense of their ACL crown with a win over J-League outfit, Kashima Antlers. It was a surprising 3-1 result for Tony Popovic’s men considering the somewhat weakened starting XI that took the field, in addition to their poor form on the domestic front. The Sky Blues are well in the mix for the top 4 and a win here will propel them to 3rd position following Adelaide United’s loss to Melbourne City last night. Sydney FC will hope their scoring form continues after they bagged another bag of goals in their 4-2 win over tiring Central Coast. Sydney have scored a staggering 15 goals (in 4 matches) since the mid-season break. The Pirtek Stadium pitch recently underwent total resurfacing so one wonders how the pitch will play. Both sides will be absent of key defensive players with Spiranovic and Poljak out through suspension for the hosts while Sydney stopper, Jacques Faty, misses out with a hamstring injury. If the surface plays true enough, I expect quite a few goals in this with injury-replacement, Kerem Bulut, a potential match winner for the hosts.
Nick’s prediction: Western Sydney 2-2 Sydney FC
Perth Glory (1st) v Brisbane Roar (6th)
Perth will look to take advantage of Brisbane’s busy schedule as they return to the NIB following a two game road trip. Despite their tally of just 3pts from their last 5 matches, Perth sit atop the A-League ladder by 2pts on Melbourne Victory – with the latter holding a game in hand. They welcome a frustrated Brisbane Roar side who are backing up just 3 days following their 1-0 loss to Chinese outfit, Beijing Guoan (in the ACL). Despite having a one man advantage for the better part of an hour, Brisbane failed to find the net and were punished with a sucker punch, deflected goal at the death. Perth are beginning to get players back from the treatment table with attacking trio Mitch Nichols, Sidnei and Chris Harold return to full fitness. Roar will reshuffle their squad, especially in defense, but options are limited in other areas. Tiredness will play a factor for the visitors, especially in the midfield area, and this is where I expect Perth to impose themselves.
Nick’s prediction: Perth Glory 2-0 Brisbane Roar
Melbourne Victory (2nd) v Wellington Phoenix (4th)
Wellington will be looking to gatecrash the home side’s party as Victory stalwart, Archie Thompson, will make his 200th appearance for the club. Despite last week’s inclement weather in Queensland forcing the postponement of Victory’s game with the Roar, the home side can top the table on goal difference and a game in hand with a win over Wellington. The Phoenix have not won a game since returning from the mid-season break (2l,2d). Strikers, Roy Krishna and Nathan Burns have gone cold in front of goal which has been the main contributing factor to Wellington’s downturn in results. In team news, Delpierre returns for the Victory after a long lay-off to replace departing captain Adrian Leijer while Wellington are likely to give former Socceroo Joel Griffiths his debut off the bench. Wellington have never defeated the Victory on their own turf and I cannot see that changing any time soon.
Nick’s prediction: Melbourne Victory 3-1 Wellington Phoenix