Adelaide United v Sydney FC:
Such an intriguing clash to commence Round 24 of the Hyundai A-League. Last week Adelaide were on the other side of Sydney taking on the Red and Black half of the Harbour City.
The Reds really could have taken more from the match than the solitary point. They definitely had spells in the match of dominance and once again it was a matter of capitalising on their chances when presented. The Reds failed to do so against the Roar the week before. Then when they came to the fore against the Wanderers, the Reds were once again scratching their heads.
This will need to change with a month to go before the finals. The Sky Blues, on the other hand, were handed all the right cards last Friday night to knock off the competition leaders. When the game was locked at 1-1, they were handed the numerical advantage with the sending off of Besart Berisha.
Instead of using the aid handed to them, they sat back and allowed the Roar to control the game. It was as if the shoe was on the other foot. This attitude needs to change if Sydney want to be amongst the finalists and wish to make a serious push for the title.
But first, they need to show the ruthlessness they showed a fortnight ago in the Sydney Derby when they head to Adelaide on Friday. Reds at home for me. Adelaide 2-1.
Newcastle Jets v Wellington Phoenix:
The Jets return home after their defeat in the F3 Derby, which now leaves them winless at Bluetongue Stadium in close to eight years. They must now focus on the task at hand as the Phoenix travel to the Hunter. Back in the early part of February was the last meeting between these two sides, where the Phoenix travelled back across the ditch with the three points in a 3-2 win.
Since then both sides have had mixed results. The Phoenix have conceded five goals twice in their last five matches and only managed one win in that period. In contrast, the Jets have knocked off the Roar, WSW and the in-form Heart in the last five matches played.
These two sides sit respectively seventh and eighth on the A-League and are only a win within the sixth-placed Adelaide United, should they slip up at home to Sydney FC the night before.
Thus, this match has extra significance riding on it for both sides and it is essentially a “six-pointer” with just a month left in the season. Since the Jets are at home, I’m leaning towards them but only just! Jets 3-2.
Brisbane Roar v Melbourne Victory:
This will be the match of the round, with first and second pitted off against one another on Saturday night. After their 1-0 win on Tuesday night in the Asian Champions League against Yokohama, the Victory will buoyed as they head to Suncorp Stadium to cause a boil over and delay the Roar’s Premiers’ Plate party for another week.
The Victory have surprisingly crept into second position at the expense of Western Sydney and the Central Coast, who look to be getting the jitters, except maybe for the latter who won last week 3-1 at home to the Jets. The Victory will want to maintain the pressure on that duo who lurk behind them as they also face tricky games this weekend themselves.
The Victory’s record in the sunshine state is not great reading though, with their last win coming there in 2009. And in their last meeting back in January, the Roar were comprehensive in their 3-0 win demolition. The Roar will be looking to, as mentioned before, claim the Premiers’ Plate on home soil on Saturday in front of their faithful.
They could have very well claimed it last week despite being reduced to 10-men against Sydney FC, but that won’t phase them as they simply look to build some momentum heading towards the finals more than anything.
It will be a cracker, but I can only see one result from this match and that is the Roar winning and claiming their third Premiers’ Plate. Roar 2-0.
Melbourne Heart v Central Coast Mariners:
With four wins in their last six, but only a point from the last fortnight, the Heart will be looking to make another push for a spot in the finals when they face the fourth-placed Mariners on Sunday.
The Heart have renewed confidence since John van’t Schip’s reappointment to the managerial role, however there is a dark cloud lurking over the Heart as they enter this clash with the Central Coast.
They have only beaten the champions once in their existence which was nearly some four years ago, when Mr. Van’t Schip held the reigns of the club. Will his appointment and the confidence he has brought bring the change to their fortunes on Sunday?
As for the Mariners, they have started to built some confidence and momentum under Phil Moss, even if it was taking a little longer than expected. The recent win in the Asian Champions League against Fukashima and the derby win over the Jets has given them more belief heading towards the finals of the A-League.
However, will the travel and 2-1 at the hands of Beijing this week take its toll on the Mariners and allow the Heart to claim all three points at AAMI Park?
Only time will tell. I’m going to say the Heart, but this is a tight one to call. Heart 1-0.
Western Sydney Wanderers v Perth Glory:
The Glory’s season is all but over as they sit nine points adrift of Adelaide in sixth place as they head to Sydney’s west. The defeat at the death against the Victory last week would have been the last straw in the Glory’s season and was essentially the final nail in their coffin.
Now it is a case of Kenny Lowe’s men playing for pride, and for some their professional footballing futures, with contracts on the line with a month left in the campaign.
In contrast, the Wanderers are dealing with probably the most crucial part in their existence. With the Wanderers in the crux of their Asian Champions League campaign and third in the league, Tony Popovic has a few headaches with picking and resting players in the lead-up to the finals and completing their group stage of the ACL.
After their win against Kawasaki at Pirtek Stadium on Wednesday night, travel will not be an issue for Popovic’s men ahead of Sunday’s match against the Glory. This means that the Wanderers do have a little bit of flexibility with their selections.
The Glory however, do not present the more pressing of the two matches they have this week and I think with ACL commitments aside, this should be an easy three points for the boys from Sydney’s west. WSW 2-0.