Melbourne Victory v Perth Glory
Ando Says: It is a battle between sixth and seventh in Melbourne on Friday night. This match should be a cracker despite the lower league positions for both clubs as they both aim to create a gap between themselves and the bottom four. The Melbourne Victory have had an off fortnight, with a dour draw on the Central Coast followed by a defeat at home to the Newcastle Jets. Victory manager Kevin Muscat wouldn’t have been pleased with the display that was on offer against the Jets and will be glad his side has a short turn around to make amends for the defeat. On the flip side, the Glory are coming off a sensational comeback against the Wellington Phoenix winning 4-2 at nib Stadium. The real question now for the Glory is whether or not they can translate that home form into this weekend’s clash with the Victory. If they can adopt the same fighting mentality as last week, then they are a real chance. Yet I can’t see the Victory slipping up in back-to-back weeks. Victory 2-0.
Bez says: Friday night sees the 6th placed Victory host the 7th placed Glory at AAMI Park in what is (besides ladder position) an important clash for both sides. Melbourne was outplayed last week against a gallant Newcastle, while Perth recorded a strong win at home over Wellington. James Troisi is staring for the home side scoring in 5 of the 9 games so far including a double against the Phoenix and collects plenty of fantasy points. Perth’s record in the Victorian capital isn’t the best only winning 2 in the last 6 (including a draw). Victory aren’t the side of old and look to be somewhat struggling to get going this season. A win for Perth is there for the taking; however I can’t see either getting the three points. Draw 1-1
Wellington Phoenix v Brisbane Roar
Ando Says: Without a win under Ernie Merrick’s tenure at the Cake Tin, the Phoenix are desperate to give the former Victory manager something to finally smile about. Four draws and four losses has them rooted to the foot of the table and any chance of lifting themselves off the bottom won’t get any easier this week against the top of the table Brisbane Roar. The Phoenix are struggling to make the Cake Tin a fortress and this is something that Merrick is desperate to change if his side wishes to be successful. The Roar are in some form at present. Apart from the one hiccup in Newcastle a few weeks back in dour conditions, they have won five of their last six, in the process claiming some handy scalps including champions the Central Coast Mariners at Bluetongue Stadium and the Wanderers at Suncorp Stadium. They have already won across the ditch earlier this year with a 2-1 win and it will be hard to go past the Roar again. Roar 2-0.
Bez says: In a repeat of the opening round fixture between the two clubs, Brisbane travel across the ditch to take on a winless Wellington. Mike Mulvey’s side are dominating the competition at the moment and are already five points clear at the top of the table. While the Phoenix sit second last, in what has been a disrupted opening to the season with first team players away twice on international duty. Roar striker Besart Berisha has scored 5 goals already this season so look to him to find the back of the net this weekend. Wellington have only won 1 of their last 10 matches against Brisbane (including 7 draws) while Brisbane have won 2 of the last 3 at the ‘Cake Tin’. Brisbane should continue on their winning ways in NZ. Brisbane 3-1
Adelaide United v Central Coast Mariners
Ando says: The Reds are the Mariners’ bunny. The Reds haven’t beaten the Mariners since September 11, 2009, and haven’t claimed a point off them since 2010. The record isn’t good reading for the boys from the City of Churches and now more than ever is the time to change that poor showing against the Central Coast, especially when Reds’ manager Josep Gombau is under the pump from fans and pundits a like. The Mariners have only lost one of their last six matches, including a much needed win against rivals Sydney FC on the coast last Saturday night. In contrast, the Reds haven’t won in their last six, with only two points to their credit in that time. With all that being taken into account, it looks as though the Reds being at home is the only thing they can use to their advantage for this clash. Yet football is a funny game and funnier things have happened. Can’t see it happening though and the Mariners will continue their streak against Adelaide. CCM 3-1.
Bez says: The Mariners are unbeaten in three matches since Phil Moss took over, recording two wins and a draw. They head to the City of Churches with a great record at Hindmarsh having beaten the Reds in 3 of the last 5 played. We have to go back to September 2009 to find Adelaide’s last home victory over the reigning champions. Central Coast were a much improved side last week against Sydney, while Adelaide haven’t won since round 1 and sit third last. This is the perfect time for Phil Moss’ men to win consecutive fixtures considering they have a mid-week game coming up on Thursday. Central Coast 2-0
Newcastle Jets v Western Sydney Wanderers
Ando says: For me, this is the most intriguing match of the weekend. Both sides have only lost one of their last six matches. Yet, it is the Jets with the better reading of 4 wins out of the six and the WSW with three wins. The Jets beating the Victory in Melbourne last week was a boil over in many ways and continued the Jets great run of form to cement their position in third. In contrast, the WSW have dropped four points in the last fortnight that they would have expected to claim against the bottom two clubs in the Phoenix and the Melbourne Heart. Manager Tony Popovic has expressed his disappointment in his side’s lack of ruthlessness to kill off sides that he feels they should, especially last week at home to the Heart where the Wanderers have made Pirtek Stadium a venue to be feared by opposition. I’m sure that the Wanderers will bounce back this week and put in a more impressive display. Will they bring the Jets back to Earth? Only time will tell. Draw 1-1.
Bez says: Newcastle returns home to Hunter Stadium after an impressive win over the Victory marking their 4th win in 5 A-League games. Their opponents are last season’s premiers and currently sit in second spot behind Brisbane. The Wanderers will be desperate for a win in Newcastle to maintain the pressure on the Roar, while if the Jets get the three points they will leap frog Tony Popovic’s men. Newcastle was dealt a terrible blow last week with defender Scott Neville rupturing an ACL which has finished his season prematurely. Western Sydney has only won 2 of their 5 away trips so far this season, but have recorded 3 from 4 clean sheets when on the road. It’s a tough match in which to find a winner but I am going with the home side. Newcastle 1-0
Sydney FC v Melbourne Heart
Ando says: The Heart are coming off what was a great result for a club that was rooted to the bottom of the league. A draw against the Wanderers at Parramatta could be the spark to turn the Heart’s season around. They must now face the Wanderers’ arch-rival, Sydney FC. Sydney FC are coming off a disappointing defeat at the hands of the Mariners, after going four wins on the bounce. Manager Frank Farina will hope that such a result won’t put a dint in their campaign nor see a return to the days of inconsistentcy. He will hope that marquee man Alessandro Del Piero will be back to fitness for the match this Sunday against the Heart. The last time these two sides met, the Sky Blues were convincing in dismantling the Heart at AAMI Park in a 2-0 win. That night the Heart barely made the Sydney FC back four and goalkeeper break a sweat, as the Sky Blues looked to be going through a training run. Sydney’s home form has been rather impressive with just the one defeat at the hands of WSW, so they will be difficult to beat this time around. Have the Heart got it in them to get something else out of another Sydney based side? I’m not so sure. Sydney FC 2-0.
Bez says: Sydney FC coach Frank Farina was bitterly disappointed with his side’s performance last week against the Mariners which saw the Sky Blues end their streak at 4 consecutive wins. Their opponents this week Melbourne Heart, can only dream of four wins as they sit last without a solitary win to their names. In the four matches played between the two sides at Allianz Stadium, the Heart have recorded 1 win, back in 2011. Sydney won the first encounter of season 9 down at AAMI Park 2-0, and should get a similar result this time in front of a vocal home crowd. Melbourne have provided glimpses of good play during matches this season however they have struggled to find that killer instinct to finish teams off. They won’t get a let up on Sunday in what should see the Sky Blues back to their winning ways. Sydney 2-0
Editors note: Ando and Bez are Football Central writers Nick Anderson and Matthew Berry.