Melbourne Victory (1st) v Newcastle Jets (10th)
In what is the biggest mismatch of the round, Victory will aim to consolidate first position by picking up 3pts against the fighting but misfiring Jets. On Sunday, the Victory won the table top clash against Wellington in convincing style (3-0) to gain the ascendancy in the title race. For the second week running, Jets manager Phil Stubbins was left scratching his head as to how his team failed to register a goal following good performances against Adelaide United and Perth. Given the short turnaround and the absence of first choice midfield pairing in Ben Kantarovski and Zenon Caravella, it’s hard to see the Jets upsetting the new league leaders.
Nick’s prediction: Melbourne Victory 3-0 Newcastle Jets
Perth Glory (2nd) v Sydney FC (5th)
With a decision on salary cap breaches yet to be made by the FFA (with points deductions a possibility), Perth players will aim to keep their focus on on-field matters as they shoot for their third consecutive win. Maximum hauls against bottom sides Western Sydney and Newcastle have breathed new life into Perth’s title aspirations, although their performances have not been at all convincing. In contrast, Sydney thoroughly outplayed Adelaide United last Saturday evening only to be denied by some goalkeeping heroics by Eugene Galekovic – eventually going down to a strike on the counter-attack by young gun Awer Mabil. Sydney remain the only side to not taste defeat on their travels and I fancy them to hang onto that tag despite the absence of midfield duo, Terry Antonis and Mickael Tavares.
Nick’s prediction: Perth Glory 1-2 Sydney FC
Adelaide United (3rd) v Brisbane Roar (7th)
Somehow, they continue to get the job done. Adelaide United pulled off their second 1-0 win on the bounce, in Sydney, when it looked for all money that they will lose – and lose handsomely. Eugene’s heroics between the sticks saved the day against the dominant Sky Blues. Visitors to Coopers’ Stadium, Brisbane Roar, are in a wretched run of form of just one win in their last 7 outings. They were also in South Korea in midweek where they were outclassed 3-1 by Suwon Bluewings – leaving their ACL campaign in tatters. Although Adelaide’s form on the road (in recent weeks) has been patchy, their last game at home in the 2-2 draw against Melbourne Victory was impressive. Brisbane’s chances of making the finals are hanging by a thread – they must win here to have any chance of breaching a six point gap to 6th placed Melbourne City. I feel like there’s too much going against the visitors to cause an upset.
Nick’s prediction: Adelaide United 2-1 Brisbane Roar
Central Coast Mariners (8th) v Western Sydney Wanderers (9th)
Despite the lowly positions of both sides, I half expect an exciting encounter in what would normally be a ‘dead rubber’. Central Coast will be looking to send off two greats sons in John Hutchinson and Simon in the best possible way with their impending retirements while also making up for last week’s dismal 6-1 loss in Brisbane. Last night’s boilover at AAMI Park with the Jets defeating Melbourne Victory means that Western Sydney have dropped down to the bottom of the table – something that won’t sit well with the current Asian Champions. It’s hard to pick a winner but there’s bound to be fireworks, on and off the pitch.
Nick’s prediction: Central Coast 2-2 Western Sydney
Melbourne City (6th) v Wellington Phoenix (5th)
Depending on Adelaide United’s result on Saturday, Wellington could jump to the top of the pile with a win against Melbourne City. The wheels have fallen off for Ernie Merrick’s men in recent weeks with consecutive 3-0 defeats to in-form Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory, respectively. Melbourne City continue to pick up points without setting the pulses racing, drawing 1-1 with Western Sydney last Friday. With 5th spot all but assured for Melbourne City as a result of Perth’s punishment, I expect Wellington to be that little bit more motivated which could snag them a huge 3pts on the road.
Nick’s prediction: Melbourne City 1-2 Wellington Phoenixr