Some sense of hope returned to the tipping hearts of the panel last week, in a round where the Sydney Derby and Adelaide United took centre stage.
Yours truly shone with three correct selections and this weekend looks an absolute cinch, bar the first ever playing of a yet to be officially named Melbourne derby.
With the Wanderers and Sydney FC hosting and two Melbourne matches, attendances will be strong. Be sure to insert your tips into the sheet below to have a say as the interactive voice of the crowd. As usual, it is well and truly in the running.
Here is the way the panel sees all the Round 4 action. Have fun with Paul Nicholls’ themed summation.
Tips: Sydney, Western Sydney, Draw, Wellington, Perth
Beware a Sky Blue scorned. Sydney FC were the better team in the derby but somehow never really looked like scoring. Their poor form in front of goal should end here, not least because the Jets look like one of the shakiest teams in the league at the back. This one should be a home banker for Steve Corica’s men in front of a big home crowd.
I said it on the Game Of Codes podcast during the week but Bankwest Stadium will win the Wanderers plenty of points this season. So too will players like Pirmin Schwegler and newcomer Nicolai Müller, and on paper the Wanderers look too strong for a Roar side still finding their way under Robbie Fowler. Expect the three points to stay in Parra.
Guess what Victory fans? You’ve got problems. Andrew Nabbout looked Victory’s best player for about half an hour against Brisbane Roar before limping off with a hamstring injury. Who’s going to score the goals at Marvel Stadium? Probably Besart Berisha, if recent history is anything to go by. This will be a fiery affair that should finish all square.
No JMac, no goals? Pretty much for Melbourne City. They’ll arguably be a better side with Richard Windbichler starting in defence but they’ll come up against a Wellington outfit that knows a golden opportunity when they see one. Phoenix beat City twice last season and with Gary Hooper looming as an x-factor, they should pull off a shock away win.
Perth Glory are yet to hit their stride, which probably spells trouble for the Central Coast Mariners. The Gosford side are undoubtedly a much improved defensive unit under Alen Stajcic but it’s hard to see how they genuinely test the hosts in this Sunday afternoon encounter. More likely is that Diego Castro and Bruno Fornaroli will tear them apart.
Tips: Sydney, Western Sydney, Victory, Draw, Perth
Sydney FC will have been licking their wounds all week, after doing everything but equalise in the Sydney Derby last weekend. They played well yet with no cutting edge and will bounce back immediately by putting the Jets to the sword at Leichhardt on Friday night.
The Wanderers will string together four wins on the trot when they face the Roar at Bankwest in the Saturday twilight game. Brisbane haven’t looked the complete article as yet, but hopefully Robbie Fowler will be impressed by a throbbing atmosphere at the new stadium. The Wanderers are on a roll and will be far too good.
Saturday night prime time will be Western United’s chance to condemn the Victory to what would be a poor start to the season and they are a real chance to do so considering their early form. With just four points from three matches, Marco Kurz’s men will be desperate. Mark Rudan’s troops will be confident of an upset. This will be a tight one. Victory.
After apologising for their capitulation in the final of the FFA Cup, Melbourne City secured a win against Western United last week, yet now lose Jamie Maclaren to injury for the short term. Wellington travel to AAMI Park to meet them on Sunday and something of a defensive grind might be the result. The Phoenix can pinch at least a point in this one. Draw.
Perth host Central Coast in the final fixture of the weekend and should be too tough at home for Alen Stajcic’s men. The Mariners have no doubt improved, yet Tony Popovic will not be impressed with his team’s lack of ruthlessness over the first three weeks of the season. Perth to win by two clear goals.
Tips: Sydney, Western Sydney, Victory, City, Perth
No Halloween-themed A-League round? Sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands.
The only treats Sydney FC will be giving Newcastle this Friday are those nasty ones laced with laxatives. After doing everything but outscore the Wanderers last week the Sky Blues will want to display every trick in their playbook including Rhyan Grant sporting a werewolf-style mullet. Sydney should have too much class for a lumbering Newcastle outfit.
Defence holds the key to Western Sydney Wanderers’ early season form. In defenders Dylan McGowan and Matt Jurman and keeper Daniel Lopar, the blood red-and-blacks have monsters that would give even Dr Frankenstein nightmares. With captain Mitch ‘Dracula’ Duke getting his fangs into everything, the Wanderers aren’t afraid of anyone.
Surely Robbie Fowler needs to give ‘Bob’ Dylan Wenzel-Halls some game time. At the moment, all the pumpkin-liveried Brisbane Roar can offer up is a throbbing jugular.
Rumours abound that Melbourne Victory keeper Lawrence Thomas will revert to wearing bandages around his head to recreate the spirit the team had when they won the grand final two years ago. In fact Marco Kurz could do worse than getting the whole team to swathe themselves in bandages to recapture the magic. Ola ‘The Mummy’ Toivonen was in good form last week but the rest of the team was average.
Western United coach Mark ‘The Count’ Rudan was outfoxed last week and will be cursing a missed opportunity against City. I don’t think the green ghouls from Geelong will bounce back and Victory should get the win.
Melbourne City have publicly stated they want to turn AAMI Park into a graveyard peopled with zombies. All was looking good until Jamie Maclaren did his hammy after scoring the winner against Western United. Did Wellington’s crafty coach, Ufuk Talay, push a few pins in his JMac voodoo doll? And one into his Harrison Delbridge doll for good measure? City should still be too good and the graveyard will welcome a new occupant.
If Perth ‘Gory’ don’t beat Central Coast at home there will be an inquisition. I can picture how this ends: Diego Castro positioning the wooden stake while Bruno Fornaroli hammers it through the Mariners’ heart. Perth by two.
Tips: Sydney, Draw, Draw, City, Perth
Last week Stuart described my start to this campaign as a baptism of fire, and never have I read truer words. Being from The Crowd I was egotistical and ignorant, now with the spotlight on, my tipping has been shaky to say the least.
That’s gonna change this round.
Friday night opens with Sydney hosting Newcastle, two teams that will be lamenting missed chances. Newcastle hosted FFA Cup holders Adelaide and after going up 1-0, capitulated and gave the visitors the points. Sydney lost in a derby for the ages, in which they peppered the Wanderers goal, throwing the kitchen sink at Daniel Lopar to no avail. Sydney will win this in a close one.
Patience in Markus Babbel is paying dividends for the Wanderers faithful. The squad is playing attractive football and their marquees and senior squad members are bringing everyone around them along for the ride. Robbie Fowler’s men, however, are not living up to the hype that they set with their early FFA Cup win over Sydney. The Wanderers’ ship will hit an iceberg here, and these teams will play out a draw.
Melbourne Victory host Western United in a game that some are considering a derby, and others are condemning those who call it such. Regardless, Marco Kurz’s men will be ecstatic that they finally got a win on the board last Friday. But they were comprehensively outplayed, and if not for Laurence Thomas, could have very easily have lost that game.
Western United should be disappointed after dropping all three points to City on Sunday. City were the better side until Delbridge’s sending off, but no team should be losing to ten men. Both games on Saturday are going to end all square, but this one will be entertaining.
Sunday opens with Melbourne City hosting the Phoenix at AAMI Park. City are coming off the bravest win I’ve seen them earn since before Warren Joyce arrived — ten men with their backs against the wall. Going on the attack was unheard of in the Joyce era, however, as their fans sing so often lately, Jamie Maclaren scores when he wants.
The Phoenix are in dire straits. They are a squad lacking cohesion and the players lack the quality to match it with the best in the comp. City are without Jamie Maclaren for a few weeks, but they’ll still get it done over the woeful Nix, 2-0.
The last match of the round has a somewhat promising Mariners side travelling to Perth for what will be a much closer game than many believe. Perth beat Wellington in relatively easy fashion and their attack is looking as dangerous as any but their defence still failed to keep a clean sheet, and honestly, I’m not surprised. Central Coast are coming off the bye and will be fresh for this one. They won’t be fresh enough though. Perth to win in another scrappy affair where they concede again.
|Round 4||Mike||Stuart||Paul||Tom||The Crowd|
|SYD vs NEW||SYD||SYD||SYD||SYD||SYD|
|WSW vs BRI||WSW||WSW||WSW||Draw||WSW|
|MVC vs WUN||Draw||MVC||MVC||Draw||DRAW|
|MCY vs WEL||WEL||Draw||MCY||MCY||MCY|
|PER vs CCM||PER||PER||PER||PER||PER|