Sydney FC (2nd) v Melbourne City (6th)
Sydney have the perfect chance to go top following the visit of Melbourne City. The Sky Blues are on a short turnaround following their remarkable 5-4 win over Brisbane Roar, on Sunday. Star striker, Marc Janko, recorded a hat-trick and in the process broke the all time A-League record – scoring in 7 consecutive games. Janko plays his last game before jetting off to captain Austria in a European Qualifier against Liechtenstein. Melbourne City made short work of Newcastle, recording a confidence boosting 4-0 win, creeping passed Brisbane into 6th position. The visitors are without some key performers for the visit to The SFS with Josh Kennedy sidelined, Connor Chapman suspended, and Baharudin on international duty with Singapore. New signing, Harry Novillo, is also a doubt through illness. It’s hard to look past a home win but the pace of David Williams and Mate Dugandzic could be troublesome for the hosts.
Nick’s prediction: Sydney FC 3-2 Melbourne City
Western Sydney (9th) v Newcastle Jets (10th)
In a league with no relegation, this match is perhaps a contender for the most meaningless game anywhere across the globe (this weekend). If anything, Newcastle should be more up for this after their listless 4-0 defeat at Melbourne City, last Saturday. Fresh from their battling scoreless draw in Seoul (in the ACL), Western Sydney are likely to field a youthful starting XI instead of putting senior players at risk to injury. Three of the last four games between these two have ended in a score draw so perhaps that trend might continue here.
Nick’s prediction: Western Sydney 1-1 Newcastle Jets
Adelaide United (5th) v Melbourne Victory (3rd)
An entertaining contest lies in wait between two clubs with big ambitions. After two defeats on the road, Adelaide United returned to the winner’s circle with a come from behind 2-1 win over Central Coast. Likewise, Melbourne Victory maintained their title challenge with a clinical (if not spectacular) 3-0 win at Western Sydney. The Reds received welcome news in midweek with the announcement that centre-back, Osama Malik, agreed to put pen to paper on a 2-year extension to his contract. Melbourne Victory received welcome news on the injury front with the return of flying wing-back, Jason Geria – but Kosta Barbarouses remains sidelined. I feel that Victory’s form has dipped in recent weeks while their away record throughout the season has been unconvincing at best (3 wins in 9 games – two of those against Western Sydney).
Nick’s prediction: Adelaide United 2-1 Melbourne Victory
Central Coast (8th) v Perth Glory (4th)
Perth will aim to bounce back from their top of the table defeat to Wellington, last week, when a brace from Roy Krishna saw them go down 2-1. Such is the congested nature of the league this season that Glory dropped from 1st to 4th after a single loss. Perhaps the lowered expectations will work in Perth’s favor when they face a Mariners side basically playing the season out. Central Coast were brave in their 2-1 defeat in Adelaide but there’s no hiding from the fact that there is a lack of quality in the Gosford outfit. Mitch Nichols returns to strengthen the visitors, giving manager Kenny Lowe a full strength team to choose from (apart from long-term casualty Youssouf Hersi).
Nick’s prediction: Central Coast 0-2 Perth Glory
Brisbane Roar (7th) v Wellington Phoenix (1st)
For the first time in their history, Wellington sit atop of the A-League ladder and who can say they don’t deserve it. Ernie Merrick’s side have been the revelation of the season with their free flowing, incisive brand of football. The 2-1 victory in Perth was perhaps not their most impressive showing but it was a gritty, determined performance akin to a side that is ready for a title challenge. Big guns, Nathan Burns and Alex Rodriguez, return for the visitors which will have Roar fans twitching uncontrollably. Brisbane Roar are doing their best in trying to juggle A-League and Asian Champions League commitments but you just can’t help and feel that they are biting off more than they can chew. In addition to conceding five in Sunday’s dramatic 5-4 loss in Sydney, Brisbane conceded another 3 in the midweek draw against South Korea’s Suwon Bluewings. Despite a run of games that must be taxing on the players, Brisbane can look forward to having pivotal midfielder, Luke Brattan, from suspension while Wednesday’s game unearthed a gem in Devante Clut who is promoted to the senior setup. I expect many goals in this match and perhaps an inverse of the 3-2 scoreline that we saw back in February is not out of the question.
Nick’s prediction: Brisbane Roar 2-3 Wellington Phoenix