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The Roar's A-League expert tips and predictions: Round 5

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Expert
5 days ago
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The A-League produced a stunning weekend of action in Round 4, with Western United and Central Coast Mariners the stars.

The panel stumbled bar Tom Williamson, who managed three correct selections.

Things are very tight at the top and the round ahead looks anything but a walk in the park when it comes to tipping successfully in the A-League. Be sure to enter your tips into the sheet below and have a say as the interactive voice of the crowd.

Mike Tuckerman
Tips: City, Perth, Draw, Victory, Draw

Melbourne City are the Jekyll and Hyde of the league. You never know what you’re going to get with Erick Mombaerts’ side and last weekend’s 3-2 win over the Phoenix was no exception. If ever there was a game for City to set down a marker, this is it. The Mariners are tough to beat but even without Jamie Maclaren, it should be the home side who get the biscuits at AAMI Park.

The thought of Tony Popovic running his players into the ground all week is almost enough to make you glad you’re not a professional footballer. It’s hard to know whether listening to Ernie Merrick’s deadpan jokes is an even worse punishment, but one thing is certain: the Glory should bounce back from last week’s shock defeat to the Mariners with a comfortable victory here.

Western United are the real deal and they proved it with their incredible come-from-behind win over Melbourne Victory last weekend. They don’t necessarily look watertight at the back, yet Western Sydney’s attack is yet to really start firing. These two sides could cancel each other out on Saturday night in Geelong, particularly with two of the league’s best goalkeepers on show.

It will be a backs-to-the-wall win for Melbourne Victory. They’re out of form, down on confidence and playmaker Kristijan Dobras looks like he was plucked straight from park football, but if Victory have proved anything over the years, it’s that they know how to grind out wins when they need them most. Wellington are a dangerous side but the hosts should prevail at AAMI Park.

Adelaide probably needed the week off after their FFA Cup exploits and Al Hassan Toure declaring his allegiance to Australia is more good news for the Reds. They’ve proved tougher to beat than I expected under Gertjan Verbeek and they always seem to fire up for the visit of Brisbane Roar. Robbie Fowler’s side are much improved defensively, so this one may finish all square.

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Al Hassan Toure

Al Hassan Toure starred in the FFA Cup final. (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images)

Stuart Thomas
Tips: City, Draw, United, Victory, Adelaide

There is little to say about Melbourne City’s victory over the Phoenix last week, other than the fact that it came via a little bit of fortune and led to a blue tirade from Louis Fenton after the match. It was VAR coming to the fore again and a win that saw Erick Mombaerts’ men climb to the top of the A-League tree. This Friday they meet a cock-a-hoop Mariners side off the back of a stunning and season building triumph against Perth Glory. Doing it again will be tough for Alen Stajcic’s new-look squad. City to win.

The Jets have a chance to secure their first win of the season against a smarting Perth. Tony Popovic will have read the riot act this week yet there is something not quite right in the west and Newcastle looked decent in their first two matches. Draw.

Western United have the chance of claiming another major scalp in the shape of the Wanderers at GMHBA Stadium in Geelong. Should they win, another skip up the ladder is possible and the Wanderers will need to find some more attacking and polished play if they are to topple the expansion club’s applecart. The Wanderers sit deep and look far too reactive to me. United in another glorious win for the new club.

Two sides desperate for a win will front up when the Victory host Wellington on Sunday afternoon. After starting well last week, United showed that Marco Kurz’s side are, at the moment, more than beatable. Frankly, home ground status at AAMI Park is the only way I can split them. Neither have impressed aside from that electric Victory start in Round 4 and the loser here could well be under some pressure.

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Adelaide are back in action after the bye and host the winless Brisbane Roar at Coopers in the final match of the weekend. The Reds look a dangerous attacking unit and well organised under Gertjan Verbeek. The Roar do not as yet, despite snatching two creditable points in the opening month of the season. Adelaide comfortably for me in this one as the Roar continue to gel and become more familiar with the direction Robbie Fowler wishes to take them.

Paul Nicholls
Tips: City, Perth, Draw, Draw, Adelaide

I went with all home teams last week and came a cropper. As an exercise I analysed home and away form and came up with the following: home teams have won six times and away teams have won nine times. So home ground advantage in the A-League means zilch.

Central Coast haven’t won in Melbourne for a zillion years and they’ll have their work cut out against league leaders Melbourne City on Friday. The Mariners are playing well under Alen Stajcic but City should have them covered.

You could almost call Newcastle versus Perth the disappointment derby. Dimi Petratos seems to be doing everything on his own and although Abdiel Arroyo has shown glimpses of form, the Jets are barely flying above the treetops. After last week it’s obvious Perth have some problems to sort out but coach Tony Popovic should fix it. Based on my flimsy statistical analysis, I’ll tip an away win.

Tony Popovic

(Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Here we all were thinking Western United would be a dud franchise yet now they are taking the A-League by storm. I am loving the combinations of Alessandro Diamanti, Scott McDonald and Besart Berisha. Can they beat the hard-nosed boys from the banks of the Parramatta River? They’ll go close but will settle for a draw.

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Melbourne Victory are struggling at the moment. Can they turn their season around against a winless and slightly luckless Wellington Phoenix? The move back to AAMI should help but Phoenix should be good for a draw here.

As Stuart pointed out the other day, all the buzz is around Adelaide United’s Riley McGree. He’s a top drawcard and one of a bunch of exciting youngsters in the A-League including teammate Al Hassan Toure. While Adelaide are exciting, doctors are prescribing Brisbane Roar highlight tapes to people with sleep deprivation symptoms. Adelaide by two.

Tom Williamson
Tips: City, Perth, Draw, Wellington, Draw

Melbourne City are celebrating their ten-year anniversary and aren’t we looking at a stark contrast from the Melbourne Heart days, who after five rounds of their debut season, sat in equal second last position with the North Queensland Fury. Only one team was performing worse than them, the hapless Sydney FC. Oh how times have changed.

City proved last round that they don’t need Jamie Maclaren on the park to find the back of the net, as they dispatched of the Phoenix with relative ease and took top spot on the table. Elsewhere, the Mariners ruined many tipsters’ weekends by upsetting the Glory in Perth – a shocking result sure, but how refreshing is it to see Central Coast contest and win games?

City will enjoy their anniversary game with a win here, and they’ll take a two-point lead at the top.

Unease is the current vibe going around the Perth camp, and with good reason. With shaky results thus far besides the win over Wellington, their defence is lacking composure and it’s proving to be of great detriment to the reigning premiers.

Newcastle were exposed by Sydney last week. It was honestly hard to watch. Matt Millar was their only shining light – he’s a very talented footballer – and with a better team around him, he is going to be very dangerous in the future.

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Perth to bounce back and get the win here, 2-0.

What’s not to love about Western United?! They play an exciting brand of football and are staking a real claim as a contender in their inaugural season. Last weekend’s win against the Victory was a delight for both the neutrals and the black and green faithful.

Western United fans cheer their team on.

(Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

As I predicted, Western Sydney’s ship hit its iceberg last weekend, they were sluggish and genuinely struggled to get past Brisbane’s bus. They’ve got some A-grade players and at any given moment can turn into a brilliant team. It just depends which Wanderers side shows up: the brilliant one, or the sluggish one.

I predict we’ll see flashes of both, and these teams will grind out a hard fought draw.

Sunday opens with the Victory hosting Wellington in a game that has ‘must win’ written all over it. The Phoenix desperately need to stem their bleeding and Victory are in all types of strife, currently sitting as the third best team in the state. They are distinctly lacking that X-factor they have had in previous seasons and after their complete capitulation on Saturday night, alarm bells must be ringing at Victory HQ. Anything less than three points here would be a disaster.

Wellington were unlucky against City last round, and with Gary Hooper leading the line, are going to win in Melbourne on Sunday afternoon.

The final game of the round is the toughest to tip. Adelaide are coming off a well deserved rest and Brisbane are something of an enigma. With a team featuring players who could set the league alight, but with no real cohesion, this game could very well go any direction.

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Both teams need the win to keep up with the top six, and I don’t think either will get it. 2-2 draw.

Round 5 Mike Stuart Paul Tom The Crowd
MCY vs CCM MCY MCY MCY MCY MCY
NEW vs PER PER Draw PER PER PER
WUN vs WSW Draw WUN Draw Draw WUN
MVC vs WEL MVC MVC Draw WEL MVC
ADL vs BRI Draw ADL ADL Draw ADL
Last week 2 1 2 3 2
Total 8 6 8 7 8