Wellington Phoenix (5th) v Central Coast Mariners (8th)
Caretaker Mariners manager, Tony Walmsley, was given the job full time in midweek – replacing Glen Moss as head coach. The visitors are yet to win on their travels so Walmsley could do worse than notch up a win against title chasing Wellington. The Phoenix have not recorded a win (or a goal) in their last 3 outings – all be it against the three most in-form teams in the competition. It was though an improved performance in the scoreless draw at Melbourne City, last week, and the return of Ben Sigmund from injury is a big boost. Central Coast are playing a more expansive game under Walmsley and that will suit the fast counter-attacking style of the Phoenix.
Nick’s prediction: Wellington Phoenix 3-1 Central Coast
Newcastle Jets (9th) v Sydney FC (2nd)
The Jets will be gunning for a second big scalp in consecutive weeks following the 1-0 win at league leaders, Melbourne Victory. Newcastle’s performances have been on an upward curve in the last month or so but a win over such quality of opposition was unexpected. Sydney FC are the most in-form side right now. Graham Arnold has his men primed for finals football following their 3-0 win against troubled Perth Glory with Bernie Ibini scoring a contender for goal of the season. The Sky Blues are within touching distance of Melbourne Victory (3pts behind) so will be aiming to keep the pressure on with Muscat’s outfit playing Brisbane tomorrow evening. Sydney remain undefeated on their travels and I’d be surprised if they were complacent following what happened last week at AAMI Park.
Nick’s prediction: Newcastle Jets 0-2 Sydney FC
Western Sydney Wanderers (10th) v Adelaide United (4th)
Favourites for the wooden spoon, Western Sydney, will have one eye on Tuesday’s ACL clash against the Kashima Antlers as they prepare to host Adelaide United. The Wanderers were desperately unlucky to go down to the Mariners (1-0) last week and with more changes expected, it’s highly questionable whether a win against Adelaide can be achieved. At the other of the spectrum, Adelaide United’s title hopes took a major hit with a 3-2 home loss to Brisbane. The absence of midfield playmaker, Marcelo Carrusca, was largely felt and he along with Awer Mabil are expected to miss out again this week. While Adelaide United have yet to taste victory at Pirtek Stadium, they won’t get a better chance with the Wanderers losing 3 (and drawing one) of their games leading up to an ACL fixture.
Nick’s prediction: Western Sydney 1-2 Adelaide United
Brisbane Roar (7th) v Melbourne Victory (1st)
Just three days after losing 2-1 to the Victory, Brisbane Roar will have the opportunity to exact quick revenge. With finals football already confirmed and an important ACL fixture in China on the horizon, this is perhaps one match too many for Roar manager Frans Thijssen and his men. The equation is simple for Melbourne Victory – win this match and the minor premiership is yours. Gui Finkler is likely to return for the visitors after missing out in midweek (through injury) while youngster, Scott Galloway, is poised to start if Jason Geria fails a fitness test. I expect Brisbane to field quite a youthful first XI with Clut, Lustica and Borrello coming into the side. Victory looked quite lethargic in the second half, on Wednesday evening, so I half expect the Roar to send the title race right down to the wire.
Nick’s prediction: Brisbane Roar 3-2 Melbourne Victory
Perth Glory (4th) v Melbourne City (6th)
After admitting to breaching the salary cap and the club CEO handing in his resignation, Perth can at least put this all behind them. Naturally, the players’ minds were elsewhere in last week’s 3-0 defeat to Sydney but I expect Perth to be more switched on in what is their last home game of the season. Melbourne City rode their luck in what was an eventful scoreless draw against Wellington, last week. City are already certain to feature in the finals so perhaps Perth will be the more motivated. In addition, City will be without the services of Josh Kennedy (through injury) while Kew Jaliens and Jacob Melling are both suspended. Perth has had a week to come to terms with what has transpired and I fancy them to pick up the three points.
Nick’s prediction: Perth 3-2 Melbourne City