In a matter of weeks the women’s World Cup kicks off. It’s a tournament that’s been around for less than 30 years, but with the growth of women’s football, it’s now very much a must-watch event around the world for any sport fan.
With the international break over and the tributes for Tim Cahill flowing, it is time to recommence A-League action.
Sunday afternoon’s Big Blue holds significant interest, while the Wanderers and Roar face crucial home matches with much-needed points on offer. Perth Glory will have the final say, however, with a win against the Mariners in the final match of the weekend potentially extending their lead at the top of the ladder.
Evan Morgan Grahame has taken a comprehensive early lead in the tipping. After some tough and unpredictable rounds he holds a three-point lead.
Sadly for the Melbourne-based writer, it will not last long. The voice of the crowd has finally got going after a slow start, and my own expectations are for a perfect tipping week.
How do you see the action unfolding in Round 5? Be sure to insert your tips into the sheet below and have a say as the voice of the crowd and match wits with our experts.
Here is how the panel sees the round unfolding.
Western Sydney, Adelaide, draw, Sydney, Perth
The A-League might be back, but it doesn’t look any easier to tip than before the international break.
The Western Sydney Wanderers play their first game at ‘home’ this season, and it’s an important one for both sides. The Wanderers should get the job done against a Newcastle side that still looks decidedly barren in attack.
Mark Rudan comes up against one of his old clubs when the Phoenix host Adelaide United in Wellington, and while the former defender has made his Kiwi outfit tough to beat, the Reds might nick this one in a close encounter at the cake tin.
Was it a case of a point gained or two points dropped for Brisbane Roar last time out? Either way, the Queensland side are under pressure to win as John Aloisi comes up against his former club. I suspect, however, that this one will finish all square at Suncorp Stadium.
The Big Blue is undoubtedly the match of the round at a sold-out Jubilee Stadium in Kogarah. Keisuke Honda will relish playing in front of a big crowd in Sydney, but the Sky Blues will use the emotion of the occasion to come out on top in this Sunday afternoon showdown.
Perth Glory showed what they were made of in their 2-0 win over Adelaide United prior to the international break, and they should comfortably account for the Central Coast Mariners on home soil. Expect an easy win for Tony Popovic’s side.
Newcastle, draw, Brisbane, draw, Perth
Despite being winless, the Jets haven’t looked awful in my view, and a victory appears just around the corner. That win should come against the Wanderers at Spotless Stadium in Sydney. The red and black have a poor relationship with their temporary home, and while Ernie Merrick yearns for the return of Roy O’Donovan to add some potency up front, the break will have served Newcastle well and they will win at a canter.
Four points from as many matches isn’t a horrible start for Mark Rudan, and the Phoenix have shown glimpses of what they are capable. The week off will have been a refreshing and head-clearing time after a poor performance against City a fortnight ago. They will be better and could restrict the visitors to a point, especially considering the difficulties the Reds have in converting chances.
Brisbane Roar will have used the break to openly discuss a few home truths after an appalling start against the Wanderers in Mudgee. The goals finally came later, yet the mindset appeared wrong from the kick-off, and chasing matches from behind when goals are proving difficult to come by is an unsustainable endeavour. Brisbane to finally get it right and cause a big upset against City.
Jubilee Stadium in Sydney will host its first Big Blue on Sunday, and hopefully a bumper crowd launches the new venue in style. Victory looked the best of the bunch a fortnight ago in a 4-1 thumping of the Mariners, yet Sydney will prove stiffer opposition. In a tough game to call so early in the season, a draw seems likely between two well-matched teams.
Perth should beat the Mariners comfortably considering two recent and poor performances by the visitors. Mike Mulvey will need an immediate response from his Central Coast team in this one and will get it. However, will it be enough to topple the high flying Glory? Probably not.
Western Sydney, Draw, Brisbane, Draw, Perth
The Wanderers will miss the quaint surrounds of Mudgee when they return ‘home’ to the uninspiring Spotless Stadium – surely Penrith would have been a better option. Home grounds aside, the Wanderers are on the improve and should account for a Newcastle Jets outfit struggling for form.
Adelaide will have been factoring in some expected unpleasant weather conditions as they head to windy Wellington on Saturday. The Reds disappointed last week at home and will need Craig Goodwin to be firing. The Phoenix were woeful against City last week, so I’ll go for a draw in an insomnia-buster.
Talking of home grounds, I am surprised that Suncorp Stadium was not the usual cow paddock it has been in recent years. The 32,000-strong crowd for the Socceroos game shows that football is far from dead in Queensland. John Aloisi would have given Brisbane Roar a rocket after last week’s middling effort in Mudgee and this should inspire them to get the job done against Melbourne City.
Kogarah Oval hosts the must-see match of the week between Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory. The Victory looked ominous last week with Keisuke Honda and James Troisi prowling about. With a big crowd expected this might be a Big Blue to remember, and I think it will be an entertaining draw.
Perth Glory should account for Central Coast Mariners on Sunday. Buzzing after their away win against Adelaide and sitting on top of the ladder, Glory should win by three or four and Andy Keogh might add a few more to his tally.
Evan Morgan Grahame
Western Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Victory, Perth
No draws this weekend, and a welcome change it will be.
Western Sydney were excellent in the first half last round against Brisbane and poor in the second. Newcastle were poor in the first half against Sydney and excellent in the second. Alex Baumjohann is already one of the league’s most dangerous playmakers, and Riera has made a fine scoring start to the year. Wanderers to beat the still O’Donovan-less Jets at home.
Wellington have been serving as the league’s slump-breakers, doing so for the Wanderers and City over the past two rounds. Both the goals they conceded last round were struck from the edge of the area, and the freedom City enjoyed in that zone will be equally relished by Adelaide. The Phoenix should be a little better at home, but if they let Craig Goodwin shoot from the same areas that Ritchie de Laet and Bruno Fornaroli were allowed to, he’ll smack in a howitzer. Adelaide to win.
Brisbane are eighth but, having drawn more games than any other team in the league so far, are tilting on the verge of being one of the A-League’s better teams. The fightback from two goals down last round will have to carry through into the first half this week. Brisbane are rock bottom of the league on the half-time table – if the result at the break was taken as the final score. Shrugging off the slow-starter tag, John Aloisi will use that result, and the rest of the international break, as fuel to overwhelm a streaky City at home.
Ola Toivonen came on for the Victory last round and laid on a lovely pass for Josh Hope to score Melbourne’s fourth goal. He should start in the marquee match-up this weekend, and we will see exactly how scary this Victory starting XI is against a Sydney team that, while also very strong, is stretched by injury and thrumming well below their highest gear. The Big Blue will be the game of the round, and although Sydney won’t roll over like Central Coast did, the might of the Victory squad will be the difference.
This last game will be an ordeal for the Mariners. Perth are the league leaders, the leading scorers, and have yet to play one of the poorer teams in the league – by that I mean Wellington or Central Coast. A pasting is in store here, 3-0 or 4-0.
|Round 5||Mike||Stuart||Paul||Evan||The Crowd|
|WSW vs NEW||WSW||NEW||WSW||WSW||WSW|
|WEL vs ADL||ADL||DRAW||DRAW||ADL||ADL|
|BRI vs MCY||DRAW||BRI||BRI||BRI||DRAW|
|SYD vs MVC||SYD||DRAW||DRAW||MVC||DRAW|
|PER vs CCM||PER||PER||PER||PER||PER|