Well played Perth Glory. The plate is yours and the top six is decided.
With just two rounds of A-League action remaining, positions two to six will now be jockeyed for by those hoping to challenge the men from the west during the finals series.
With Paul Nicholls and the crowd seemingly locked in a battle for tipping supremacy, it will be a nail-biting finish over the next month.
Be sure to play a role in the continued excellent tipping of the crowd by placing your selections into the sheet below. Here are the thoughts of the panel on Round 26, the penultimate round of play before four A-League teams end their seasons in just over a week’s time.
Draw, Melbourne Victory, Brisbane, Western Sydney, draw
In true A-League fashion this game could have been a title decider, but it’s not. Sydney FC have problems – goal-scoring ones mainly – and Perth Glory will be nursing a premiership hangover in Kogarah. Expect this one to finish all square.
It’s hard to see Adelaide United putting away too many goals with no strikers, although the inclusion of Nikola Mileusnic will help. Victory have flattered to deceive for much of the season but having lost once at Coopers Stadium this campaign, they should avenge that defeat here.
Eric Bautheac will have to do his campaigning for a new A-League contract from the sidelines in this one, but even allowing for the fact the Roar midfielder is suspended, the hosts should still have too much firepower for an uninterested Jets side at Suncorp Stadium.
Why haven’t the Wanderers played every game this season like they did last weekend’s Sydney derby? They’re a better side than their points tally suggests, and with Markus Babbel set to sweep the broom through his squad, they’ll have plenty of motivation to down the Mariners in Gosford.
One’s a coach that every club wants and the other is Warren Joyce, so which one will prevail in Wellington? Mark Rudan will end up at Western United next season and Joyce may end up at … Melbourne City. Can they be separated at Westpac Stadium? Not likely.
Sydney, Melbourne Victory, Brisbane, Western Sydney, Melbourne City
Sydney FC’s vision has now firmly shifted from ahead to behind as they attempt to cling onto the vital second rung on the ladder. The Victory will push them all the way, and anything less than a point against the Glory on Thursday night could see the southerners move past them this weekend. I’m tipping a hangover for the Glory. They have probably been on the sauce all week partying, and they will turn up underdone for this one against the Sky Blues in Sydney.
Victory will prove too strong for Adelaide in the city of churches simply because they have to be. A win against the Reds has them potentially enjoying a week off in the first round of the finals, something Kevin Muscat would love to use to freshen up his troops amidst Asian Champions League commitments.
I haven’t tipped Brisbane very often lately, but I will in this one thanks to a potential lack of interest in the Jets camp after their finals hopes were finally killed off by the Glory last weekend. The young Roar side sparkled in their win against Wellington on Friday night, and if they play with a similar freedom, they may well be able to put a few past a very disappointed Jets team.
Let’s hope the Mariners can draw 3000-plus to Central Coast Stadium for their clash with the Wanderers on Saturday night. It would be a shame to see an appalling crowd finish off their season. Central Coast tried hard against the Victory last week only to come up with nothing to show for their efforts.
The Wanderers were very good in patches against the Sky Blues in last week’s derby and potentially did enough to win the game bar finding the net a second time. The Wanderers should win this one off the back of some decent recent form.
The match with the most significant ramifications on the bottom half of the six is the Phoenix clash with Melbourne City. I thought City would be a powerhouse this season, and though they will play finals, they are nowhere near the top of people’s lists for potential grand final participation. I am going with my gut on this one: City will thrash the Phoenix 3-0, with Jamie Maclaren on the score sheet multiple times. Wellington have looked sloppy and flat in the last fortnight and must be shaken by the news of their manager’s departure. City to win impressively and cause the top three to peer over their shoulders.
Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Western Sydney, Wellington
It was Prince who sang “Purple reigns, purple reigns” and I couldn’t think of a more fitting tribute tune to the magnificent Perth Glory, who wrapped up their first A-League premiership last week. But it means they have only pride to play for against Sydney FC. The Sky Blues will have their eye on second place, but it’s the ‘do it for Brosquey’ sentiment that should tip the scales Sydney’s way.
There’s El Classico and The Big Blue, but if any fixture deserves a name it surely must be Adelaide United vs Melbourne Victory. How about El Viagro? If this match doesn’t get your football blood pumping, nothing will. Adelaide to finish the happier.
The kids are all right, at least according to Brisbane Roar fans. Although the youngsters will miss the half-brilliant, half-crazy Eric Bautheac, I think the Roar can make it two in a row against a Newcastle outfit that performed with distinction in Perth.
I like the way Western Sydney coach Markus Babbel has handled his side, the carrot-and-stick management approach to Alex Baumjohann being a fun case in point. The rewards will be Baumjohann scoring in a convincing Wanderers win over the Mariners.
So Rudes is finally leaving the Shaky Isles. Who’d have thunk it? With all the coaching shenanigans I would expect Phoenix to crumble, but Melbourne City lack the cohesion to take advantage of any negative energy. Wellington to win.
|Round 26||Mike||Stuart||Paul||The Crowd|
|SYD vs PER||Draw||SYD||SYD||DRAW|
|ADL vs MVC||MVC||MVC||ADL||MVC|
|BRI vs NEW||BRI||BRI||BRI||NEW|
|CCM vs WSW||WSW||WSW||WSW||WSW|
|WEL vs MCY||Draw||MCY||WEL||WEL|