When it comes to expanding the FIFA World Cup to 48 teams, people fall into two clearly defined groups – those who are for it and those who are against it. There’s very little in the middle.
Okay, let’s get this out of the way immediately. The author managed to throw the proverbial spanner in the works of each and every team he selected last week.
Wellington, Central Coast and Melbourne City all produced their worst efforts of the season thus far and my ‘kiss of death’ role kept Brisbane out of the winners circle once again.
However, Round 4 looks a cinch and my return to tipping form might well and truly be occurring sooner rather than later. The Roar of the crowd bounced back with two correct tips last week, yet it was Evan Morgan Grahame who took the most considerable leap forward with three successful selections.
Make sure you enter your tips into the sheet below, as the A-League season heats up and the all-important ladder starts to take shape.
Good luck to everyone this week, some of us definitely need it.
City, Roar, Sydney, Draw, Victory
Melbourne City were dire last weekend and the Phoenix weren’t much better, even if the weather in Wellington didn’t help. This seems like the perfect opportunity for City to silence some of their critics with a decent display at home. So City to win in front of a few diehard fans and plenty of seagulls?
The match of the round arguably takes place in picturesque Mudgee, but which versions of Western Sydney and Brisbane Roar will turn up? If the Roar lose here, they’ve got real problems. I suspect they’ll conjure a backs-to-the-wall victory in what is effectively a neutral setting for both teams.
The Jets huffed and puffed in their narrow loss to Melbourne Victory last weekend, but unless Ronny Vargas finds the back of the net, they don’t look like they have the quality to trouble Sydney FC. The Sky Blues should take all three points to make up for last season’s surprise loss to the Jets in Newcastle.
What’s with all the draws in the A-League this season? I certainly can’t pick them. You’d think that with all of Adelaide’s injury woes they’d be outsiders here, but with Craig Goodwin in a rich vein of form, they’ll be tough to beat at home. Maybe this one will finish all square at Coopers Stadium?
Melbourne Victory seem to love playing on Sunday afternoons, even if they went down to Perth Glory the last time they did. They should have more than enough quality to beat the Central Coast Mariners in front of their own fans, despite playing without a recognised striker up front.
City, Western Sydney, Sydney, Draw, Victory
Melbourne City should open the round with a comfortable win against Wellington at home except for the fact that, well, they were awful last week against Sydney FC. Awful isn’t really the word either. They were worse than that. Still, something tells me the rebound factor might play a role here and the Phoenix rarely travel well.
The Wanderers finally showed their teeth last week against the Phoenix in appalling weather across the ditch. They will back it up this weekend with another win against a Brisbane Roar side playing without much luck or belief. The Roar will explode at some point and seeing as I have tipped the Wanderers, it very well could be this week.
Sydney FC take the beautiful trip up to the Hunter for a Saturday night, prime-time clash with the Jets. Still winless, Newcastle need something and fast. Another loss would have them mired to the bottom of the ladder. Considering Sydney’s demolition of City in Round 3, that appears likely and the travelling Sky Blues should get the win.
I am selecting a draw in the early Sunday match, primarily because I cannot decide who appears most likely to win. Perth look improved under Tony Popovic and Adelaide were terrific all last week, as the Craig Goodwin show rolled on. The Adelaide home ground advantage versus the slightly better form of the Glory might see this one end with the points shared.
The Victory finally got rolling last weekend against the Jets and the Central Coast derailed against Adelaide. Logic says that Honda, Troisi, Barbarouses and co will be far too strong for the defensively minded Mariners. As do I. Victory to win.
City, Western Sydney, Sydney, Adelaide, Victory
Melbourne City will get the three points from Wellington Phoenix. Both teams are smarting from last up home losses, but in Melbourne Cup week, City seem a sure bet.
Western Sydney Wanderers face Brisbane Roar in their unfamiliar temporary ‘home’ of Glen Willow Stadium in Mudgee, although to be honest, it should scrub up better than Spotless Stadium. The Wanderers looked good against the Phoenix last week and should have the momentum to win against a struggling Roar outfit.
What has happened to last year’s glamour boys, the Newcastle Jets? The suspension of Roy O’Donovan has hit them harder than clear air turbulence. As much as I like the Jets, they won’t get airborne against an Adam le Fondre-inspired Sydney FC.
Melbourne Victory should romp in against Central Coast Mariners who seem to lack pace up front – there was a fast Jamaican bloke… but I’ll leave that alone.
Adelaide versus Perth looks to be the most attractive fixture of the round. It shapes up as a Craig Goodwin versus Andy Keogh slugfest and I think the Adelaide man will once again prove the difference. The Reds to win 2-1.
Evan Morgan Grahame
City, Draw, Sydney, Adelaide, Victory
Western Sydney had been largely blunt up until last week but were jolted into attacking potency against Wellington. City, who have been equally blunt, and with a whiff of torpor too, meet the Phoenix on Friday; they will be as inspired to rouse themselves. City to win, and Bruno Fornaroli to score a double.
Brisbane’s start has been poor, two draws and a loss. The squad is almost fully fit too; with only Brett Holman – a marquee, but in all honesty probably one who is yet to justify that moniker – in the infirmary. It would be wise for the Wanderers not to get too inflated after their first win of the season, and Brisbane will bring them back down to earth here, while not quite consigning them to the pit of defeat.
Sydney, unlike Brisbane, are plagued by a spate of injuries, including to key attackers. It has not slowed them, and as the only Roar Expert to correctly pick them against City last week, I’ll continue the pattern.
Newcastle are horribly out of sorts, floundering a little at the bottom of this young table. They will improve when Roy O’Donovan returns; they have actually had as many shots on target as Sydney, but have a conversion rate a staggering 21 per cent worse than the league leaders. They need a finisher, and O’Donovan is that, but he won’t be back for another five games. Sydney to win.
Adelaide have a sort of gritty allure to them this season, and in Craig Goodwin they have a player who is sizing up this season in the way a prize fighter might an opponent who has been so careless as to reveal a flash of fright in his eyes. Goodwin may well be a Socceroo again by the time these tips are published. Perth have been excellent, of course, and are justifying their pre-season contender tag, but they have points of weakness. Adelaide to win.
The promise of that almost-comeback against Perth was consolidated eventually, their first half was fairly ordinary in truth, in the Victory’s win over Newcastle. Melbourne can build further momentum with what should be a routine win over the Mariners.
Ah, Central Coast: with the worst defensive record in the league. Early days, sure, but would we be surprised if they retained that title all season? It seems as though the good recruitment up top might be let down by the sieve at the back. Goalkeeper Ben Kennedy will be tormented by pangs of last weekend’s howler, and Melbourne would be well advised to test the stick of his hands. Melbourne to win.
|Round 4||Mike||Stuart||Paul||Evan||The Crowd|
|MCY vs WEL||MCY||MCY||MCY||MCY||MCY|
|WSW vs BRI||BRI||WSW||WSW||DRAW||WSW|
|NEW vs SYD||SYD||SYD||SYD||SYD||SYD|
|ADL vs PER||DRAW||DRAW||ADL||ADL||ADL|
|MVC vs CCM||MVC||MVC||MVC||MVC||MVC|