Last week I wrote that Round 18 looked like potentially the toughest tipping round of the season. It was the only thing I tipped correctly all weekend, and but for Paul Nicholls’ fearless prediction of a draw between the Reds and City in Adelaide, the entire panel drew a blank.
Mike Tuckerman was way off the mark and yours truly did no better, and for the first time this season the roar of the crowd was less than a whimper with not one correct selection.
Oh well, I guess we can all lick out wounds and climb right back into the saddle in the hope of a reversal of fortune.
Sadly, Round 19 looks just as tricky, especially with Brisbane and Wanderers coming off wins last weekend. Good luck with your tips and don’t forget to punch them into the sheet below as the voice of the crowd. We all need a new week to get things back on track.
Draw, City, Adelaide, Perth, Sydney
This will be a cracker in Auckland and the Phoenix and Victory have already drawn three times this season. Expect another stalemate, especially since a battle-weary Victory have such a short turnaround between fixtures.
The Jets have arguably got bigger games to worry about with another AFC Champions League play-off against Kashima on the horizon. City should take advantage here, not least because they finally boast a strike force that can actually score goals.
The battle of the Bundesliga bosses should see Marco Kurz prevail over the entertaining but erratic Markus Babbel. The latter is on thin ice in Western Sydney and the Reds should have the quality to conjure another home win as they look to sure up a finals spot.
It’s hard to see anything but another Perth Glory win at home, even if Brisbane Roar finally showed some fight in their spirited comeback against Sydney FC last weekend. Tony Popovic’s team should be too meticulous to let the same thing happen here.
This could be a bloodbath in Leichhardt. Sky Blues fans will be demanding a comfortable win in front of a partisan home crowd in Sydney’s inner west and the Mariners should provide the sacrificial lambs to the slaughter.
City, draw, Adelaide, Perth, Sydney
The Jets did well to snatch an extra-time win in their Asian Champions League qualifying match in stifling conditions on Tuesday. Rather unfortunately they face a quick turnaround against a City side bubbling at their potential improvement with Jamie Maclaren on board. I’ve been a believer in City from the start and this match could be the start of an impressive run home.
I cannot split Wellington and Victory and feel they may share the points as they did earlier in the season. Keisuke Honda didn’t look quite right last week and will be better for the run. With Ola Toivonen hopefully back in the team, Victory look almost as strong as they can be. Wellington have gone a little cold in the last month and might ramp up for this one as their game of the season thus far. Too close to call.
Adelaide should have too much firepower for the Wanderers despite the Sydneysiders earning a much-needed and comfortable win against the Mariners last week. With Craig Goodwin and Nikola Mileusnic now able to sit in behind new man Jordy Thomassen, we might be about to witness the best of Adelaide over the next ten or so weeks.
It is hard to see Perth managing to blow the points against a jubilant Roar team that pulled off something of a miracle against Sydney FC last week. On the back of a real statement against the Victory, the westerners will be too strong for a Roar team playing with excellent spirit under Darren Davies.
Sydney FC should be an easy tip against the Mariners, but the men from Gosford have continued to play well without much luck. Steve Corica would have been furious with the points dropped late against the Roar last week. Look for Sydney to run on with their strongest side and play with an intensity and desperation that was lacking last weekend.
Wellington, Draw, Adelaide, Perth, Sydney
What an emotional week! Who didn’t do a fist pump when the news filtered through that Hakeem Al-Araibi was returning to Australia? And wasn’t it heartening to see so many Australians getting behind the cause. The leadership shown by Craig Foster has been exceptional and all those involved in bringing Hakeem home deserve great credit. Bravo!
As predicted, last week’s tips were a disaster. For a moment I glimpsed the summit but I’m sure Stuart and The Crowd have pulled away. Now I find myself looking over my shoulder at the notoriously strong-finishing Mike Tuckerman.
Wellington surprised with their gutsy draw against Newcastle. Coming after their drubbing by Perth, it showed the Phoenix have great team spirit. Kudos to Mark Rudan for that. It’s no wonder league new boys Western Athletic have feelers out for him.
Melbourne Victory were beaten by the better team last week and now face the daunting task of clawing back Perth Glory’s seven-point lead in the premiership. I think the pressure will tell and Wellington should win.
The extra-time midweek Asian Champions League triumph will have taken a physical toll on the Newcastle Jets. However, the boost in confidence from that game should be enough to earn a draw against Melbourne City, who finished strongly against Adelaide.
Adelaide showed indifferent form against Melbourne City in that match. Coach Marco Kurz would at least be happy with the form of Craig Goodwin, who now has nine goals for the season.
The Wanderers finally turned it around against the Mariners and will hope to take some momentum into this week’s game, but the Reds, on a five-match unbeaten run, should still be too good.
Perth took a big step towards their maiden A-league premiership with a superb win against Melbourne Victory. For probably the first time in the A-league era the Glory have proved they can win the crunch matches. Diego Costa seems to have peaked at just the right time and Chris Ikonomidis has been consistently good.
Brisbane Roar fans will still be singing after their well-deserved win against Sydney FC last week. It was sensational seeing Ipswich lad Dylan Wenzel-Halls score the winner. With his slightly untidy appearance he reminds me of a young Marshall Soper, someone most readers would barely know – Google him, folks, he’s a legend. Unfortunately for the Roar, Perth have too much at stake and should win.
Leichhardt Oval will rock and roll when Sydney FC take on Central Coast. It’s the kind of atmosphere that Mariners striker Matt Simon thrives on and his contests against Alex Wilkinson and Rhyan Grant will have the crowd at fever pitch. Despite getting their mullets pulled last week, Sydney FC will give the Mariners a buzz cut.
|Round 19||Mike||Stuart||Paul||The Crowd|
|NEW vs MCY||DRAW||MCY||WEL||MCY|
|WEL vs MVC||MCY||DRAW||DRAW||WEL|
|ADL vs WSW||ADL||ADL||ADL||ADL|
|PER vs BRI||PER||PER||PER||PER|
|SYD vs CCM||SYD||SYD||SYD||SYD|