Sydney FC v Brisbane Roar:
Both these sides had impressive wins. Let’s start with the home side. The Sky Blues were a different side, in particular in the second half.
They had the passion, the desire and the spirit that many of their faithful had been demanding for much of this season.
The players were flying into challenges to ensure they won the ball. There was more endeavour on the ball and going forward.
There was an intimidatory factor about Sydney FC that neither the Wanderers nor the rest of the league had witnessed this season.
Teams tend to lift for local derby occasions like Sydney did; however, the question now lies with whether or not they can do that for a number of weeks in a row. This will be tested with the visit of the league’s best.
The Brisbane Roar come to Allianz Stadium on Friday night, off the back of a 2-1 win over their major contenders, Adelaide United. They were clinical once again when it counted most and when the opportunities presented themselves.
The Reds simply didn’t and that was the major difference between the two sides. Tommy Broich was unlucky not to have a goal himself, with the ball clearly crossing the line in the opening stanza of that clash.
This will be a difficult game for the home side. The last time the Roar visited Moore Park, they were comprehensive with a 5-2 victory.
Yet, if they put in the same attitude and ruthlessness like they did in the Sydney derby, then they are a chance. I think the Roar will sneak the three points though. Brisbane 2-1.
Western Sydney Wanderers v Adelaide United:
The Wanderers will be buoyed after their 1-0 win in China against Guizhou Renhe during the week in the Asian Champions League.
It was just the tonic that was required for them to rebound after the disappointment of a 3-1 derby loss to Sydney FC.
During the derby, they simply weren’t able to withstand the intensity, the pressure and the ruthlessness that Sydney FC were producing throughout the entire second half.
However, going to China several days later has allowed them to regain their swagger, and they produced a typical Wanderers display. Suffocate the opposition whilst producing the goods on the scoreboard, even if it was only one goal to Mark Bridge.
The big test for them will be how they are able to handle the short turn around at Pirtek Stadium against arguably the league’s biggest threat to the Brisbane Roar.
The Reds will be frustrated by the result at Suncorp Stadium, especially with the form that they have been in of late. Josep Gombau’s men simply couldn’t bury their chances when presented and couldn’t quite win the contest in the midfield battle.
This match will present another taxing challenge for the boys from the city of churches and I think one that they will be able to stand up to with great confidence and vigour.
They have never beaten WSW outside of Adelaide, but now is there best chance since WSW’s inception to change that. Adelaide 2-1.
Central Coast v Newcastle Jets:
The Mariners are coming off an Asian Champions League win against J-League champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima, which will give them an added boost heading into this week’s F3 Derby.
After the disaster of defeat at the hands of the Melbourne Victory last Friday night, where they looked on course for at least a point, the result against the J-League champions is just what the doctor ordered.
They looked more enthusiastic and energetic when in possession, and looked as though they were out to prove a point. Phil Moss will be expecting more of the same from his men when the Jets arrive from the hour long drive south.
The Jets are coming off a great performance against the in-form Melbourne Heart and now have had three wins in their last four matches. Who would have thought the Jets would be talked about in such vain?
This will be a tough match to pick, especially because it is a local derby. I think I’m leaning towards an upset, and a third consecutive victory for the Jets. Newcastle 2-1.
Perth Glory v Melbourne Victory:
The Glory are coming off a long road trip to Wellington last week, where they salvaged a draw. They looked a far more positive unit than the past couple of months and maybe the tide is turning for the Glory.
However, will a late charge be all too late for the Glory when it comes to finals football?
The Victory on the other hand scored two late goals last Friday to claim all three points against the champions.
They showed great fight in the last 20 minutes of that match to secure all three points and in the end it was a greater level of ruthlessness and persistence to find the back of the net that got them over line against the Mariners.
Add a midweek Asian Champions League draw at home, and the Victory have some real confidence heading into this clash, despite their inconsistency through this campaign.
I think Victory to all but put an end to the Glory’s finals hopes. Victory 2-0.
Melbourne Heart v Wellington Phoenix:
The last time that these two faced off, the Melbourne Heart travelled back across the ditch with three points and a 5-0 win. It instigated their real resurgence up the table and a serious push for the finals.
The Heart, however, are coming off a surprise defeat to the Newcastle Jets in the Hunter and will be looking to rebound from that disappointment.
The Phoenix on the other hand claimed a share of the points against the Perth Glory last week and are in a little bit of a leaner patch to the two or so months where they couldn’t put a foot wrong.
Ironically, it was the Heart who sent the Phoenix into this mini collapse heading into the home straight of the A-League season.
With this match being the final match of the round it is sure to be an intriguing and entertaining clash, but the Heart at home is what my gut feeling is telling me. Heart 3-1.