Melbourne City have parted ways with coach Warren Joyce and will continue their long battle to realise their A-League ambitions without the Englishman, after declining to extend his two-year stint as senior coach.
With just four weeks remaining of A-League home-and-away play the top six looks set.
Both the Newcastle Jets and Western Sydney Wanderers are still wild mathematical chances to knock Melbourne City or Adelaide United out of post season play. However, the wheels would well and truly need to fall off either the fifth and sixth place team for there to be any change to the six in a months’ time.
The Sydney FC versus Melbourne Victory clash at the Sydney Cricket Ground headlines the weekend and with some decent weather, the fans should flock to Sydney’s east for the contest. Adelaide and Wellington do battle in the city of churches in a match set to define the final order of the six.
The Phoenix have a chance to skip clear and go a long way towards locking up fourth place.
Good luck with your tips this week and be sure to enter them in the sheet below to have your say as the all-important voice of the crowd. It looks like being a tight run thing for tipping glory in 2018-19; a race that I am determined to win!
Here is the way the panel sees Round 24 unfolding.
City, draw, Sydney, Wellington, Perth.
Warren Joyce to Wellington? You can imagine Melbourne City fans are already passing around the hat to make that move happen. City were a disgrace last weekend but with Jamie Maclaren back on board, they should claim all three points off a Roar side simply going through the motions.
Another loss last weekend means the Jets are almost no chance of reaching the finals, and the Wanderers should hammer another nail in the coffin by claiming at least a point in Newcastle. You could almost see the Wanderers winning here, but then I wouldn’t want to tip Western Sydney to win!
Forget free-flowing football because the pitch at the Sydney Cricket Ground will make that virtually impossible. Whoever wins this game should just about guarantee themselves a second-place finish, and while Victory are in form, Sydney FC have a point to prove and the firepower to actually do it.
The Phoenix continue to be the surprise packages of the competition, and after thumping Newcastle last weekend, should dish out a similar fate to Adelaide United. The Reds are limping towards the playoffs and won’t exactly fancy running into the returning Roy Krishna is this one.
Alen Stajcic is a decent coach but he’s no miracle worker, so Perth Glory will see this clash in Gosford as a gimme three points. The Mariners turned in another insipid display last weekend and they’ll have to man the ramparts if they’re to hold out Glory’s free-flowing attack on Sunday afternoon.
draw, Western Sydney, Victory, Wellington, Perth
Both Brisbane and City let me down last week after I showed faith in them. That shan’t be happening this week after City’s poor display against the Wanderers and Roar’s loss to Sydney.
I have no clue how this match will play out, other than thinking City cannot play as listlessly as they did last week. Surely Warren Joyce still has an influence in the dressing room? Surely City aren’t just going through the motions? No clue – draw.
To have any hope at all of scrambling into the top six, the Jets must win all four of their remaining matches and hope for a few favours elsewhere. The Wanderers would need to do the same and have a host of overly ambitious prayers answered.
Neither will probably happen yet the Wanderers should go into this match as favourites. Their recent form has been good and Newcastle have lost all the momentum they had built prior to the international break. Wanderers to win on the road.
I’ll be blogging the big one for the Roar on Saturday night and I can’t wait. Sydney keep chipping away and hanging around the top of the ladder.
However, Victory still look the biggest threat to Perth Glory in my view. There is little to be said about this one, we all know how theses one’s play out.
It will be a ‘big blue’ to remember and the Victory front third will prove the difference in a 3-1 win.
The Reds host the Phoenix on Sunday and Wellington have a distinct chance of moving even closer to securing fourth spot on the table. I think they will, against an Adelaide team still struggling with goal production.
Wellington are on a three match winning streak and with Roy Krishna back and their front line firing, the Reds should be their next victim.
The Mariners look a better team under Alen Stajcic and will host the Glory in the final match of the weekend. I hope the local fans get out to the ground to watch the most entertaining A-League team in the country. After a frustrating and goalless night against the Victory, Perth may just explode in Gosford.
Central Coast will continue to show improved defensive discipline, yet clean sheets are not their thing. Logic says Perth will find three or four goals and it is highly unlikely the Mariners will do the same. Perth to win in a canter.
City, Western Sydney, Sydney, Wellington, Perth
I started last week on fire with correct tips for the first two games then it all went pear shaped. I’ve gone back to relying on reading tea leaves for my tips – which is devilishly difficult since I only have tea bags.
Melbourne City take on Brisbane on Friday in a match that will give Fox Sports ratings a boost – not. I can’t of think of anything positive to say about these teams; their jerseys are nice I suppose, but that’s it. City too good at home.
Newcastle coach Ernie Merrick’s body language is never uplifting at the best of times but he now looks positively morose. Markus Babbel meanwhile has a spring in his step with some rejuvenated stars in Oriol Riera and Mitch Duke as well as the evergreen Tarek Elrich playing the house down. The Wanderers look to have the ascendancy in this game.
Sixes and sevens are the important numbers for the teams in the Big Blue. These are the points Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory respectively trail Perth Glory by.
I think Sydney is the only side that can genuinely catch Glory and the hunger might count for everything. Victory showed a steely side against Perth but at the SCG I can see Sydney getting up.
Wellington Phoenix lost the services of the impressive Louis Fenton to injury but will welcome Roy Krishna back for their crunch fourth-place shootout in Adelaide. The Phoenix have outscored Adelaide by a massive 15 goals to one over the last three rounds.
At Coopers Stadium it might be close but I expect Wellington to come away with the three points.
I can see exactly how the last game of the round will pan out. A nervous Perth will go behind to the Mariners early before Andy Keogh comes good with a second half hat-trick. Hey, these Irish Breakfast tea bags are good.
|Round 24||Mike||Stuart||Paul||The Crowd|
|MCY vs BRI||MCY||DRAW||MCY||MCY|
|NEW vs WSW||DRAW||WSW||WSW||WSW|
|SYD vs MVC||SYD||MVC||SYD||?MVC|
|ADL vs WEL||WEL||WEL||WEL||WEL|
|CCM vs PER||PER||PER||PER||PER|