Western Sydney have pulled the trigger on under-fire coach Markus Babbel, axing the German midway through his three-year contract.
The Melbourne derby holds sway as the most enticing fixture of Round 11, and a win for Melbourne City would be monumental.
With Victory struggling mid-table and City producing potentially the most polished display by any team this season in a 4-0 thrashing of Newcastle Jets last weekend, the stage is set for a passing of the baton.
Western United also have a say in the discussion around the best team in Victoria after a successful start to the season that has produced five wins.
Elsewhere, Perth have another chance to claim points and continue their climb, the Phoenix face a red hot Sydney across the ditch and Central Coast and Adelaide do battle in Gosford.
Be sure to enter your tips into the sheet below and have a say as the interactive voice of the crowd. Currently yours truly leads the way after an impressive month, yet over the course of a long season there will be plenty more triumphs and disasters when it comes to A-League tipping in 2019-20.
Good luck with your tips. Here are the thoughts of the panel on all the Round 11 action.
United, Sydney, City, Perth, draw
The Wanderers have to return to form at some point, right? It’s hard to believe a team boasting the likes of Pirmin Schwegler and Nicolai Mueller could be so terrible, but Western Sydney just are. Western United beat Brisbane Roar with a diabolical game plan of attacking for five minutes and defending for 85 last week. It worked then, so why not now?
I’ll go out on a limb and point out that I reckon Wellington Phoenix are a huge chance of knocking Sydney FC off at home. The Kiwis are in decent form and Westpac Stadium is rarely an easy place to go and win. The only thing stopping me from tipping the Nix is the fact the Sky Blues are in such a rhythm right now, but this could be a close-run thing.
Melbourne City will win the derby. They’d want to given the resources at their disposal, but for too long they’ve been the little brother as Victory ruled the roost. They’re far from the finished product and look liable to botch a few games here and there for the rest of the season, but this is City’s derby to lose, and that’s not going to happen on current form.
Was Perth’s premiership last season a bit of an anomaly? Glory eased to a 2-0 win over the Wanderers in furnace-like conditions last weekend but they’re yet to show anywhere near their best form. The Jets, meanwhile, deserve some credit for battling on in the face of longstanding injury concerns. But it’s hard to see anything except a home win here.
On another day the Mariners might have taken something from Sydney FC last weekend. They’ll want to start turning some of their positive performances into points and they’ve got a glorious opportunity to do so against the Reds. Adelaide are one of the most exciting teams in the league, but will they be up for a Sunday arvo in Gosford? Nup.
United, Sydney, City, Perth, Central Coast
Despite much criticism around the dour nature of Western United’s 2-0 victory over Brisbane Roar last weekend, when it comes to tipping I couldn’t give two hoots. Historically plenty of football teams have taken a somewhat conservative approach into their work, looking to counter and then to frustrate. Mark Rudan’s men look skilled in the method and will beat a ticking and still disjointed Western Sydney at Parramatta.
Can Wellington do what only the Wanderers have done this season and beat Sydney FC? Probably not, despite the committed shift they will put in. The galvanising effect of the resigning of Milos Ninkovic will keep Sydney ‘up’ for a least one more week and three points richer.
Melbourne Derby? City by two clear goals. Victory were brave against the Phoenix after losing a man last week and held on for a point. Against the slick and daring City such grit will be overwhelmed by a better prepared and in-form football team in the form of Melbourne City. For an exotic bet? A thrashing may be on the cards.
Newcastle were poor against the brilliant City last Sunday and will no doubt have felt embarrassed by the performance. They cannot play any worse, yet Perth are just starting to find their mojo and Bruno Fornaroli is learning the tendencies of his providers. Perth 3-0.
The Mariners will do what they have done all season and play with aggression and pride against Adelaide in Gosford. Something tells me it may just be enough. Leaking goals is their biggest danger but, in an upset, I’m tipping Central Coast in a very tight contest.
Draw, Sydney, City, Perth, Adelaide
I’m not understanding the lack of love for Western United coach Mark Rudan. His team has won three out of four away matches this season. A win is a win, and if he can get the result, fair play to him.
How will they shape up against Western Sydney coach Markus Babbel, who isn’t too worried about results since his team can’t be relegated? The Wanderers are in an awful run of five straight defeats and statistically I feel this can’t continue. A draw to keep the Wanderers above the relegation zone.
You’d have to be brave or crazy to tip against Sydney FC at the moment. In a court of law I’ll presume Sydney will win unless proven otherwise. Wellington has the third meanest defence thanks in no small part to hard man Steven Taylor. Then again, Sydney has the meanest defence. Up front the Phoenix have scored 11 compared to Sydney’s 22. I could go on but I rest my case. The verdict is a Sydney win.
Melbourne City were fab against the Jets last week. I’ve always rated Javier Cabrera, but the performance of his compatriot Adrian Luna was sensational. These two are looking the part, and the fact that Jamie Maclaren scored again barely passes as news these days. Melbourne Victory holding on for a draw at home to Wellington says a lot about their season. City to win 3-1.
Tony Popovic has found his coaching mojo again and Perth Glory are flying high on the back of two wins. Newcastle weren’t in the race against City but I still think their best form is ahead of them. This match looks to be a tight one, but I can’t see the Jets getting anything out of their trip to the west.
Five wins from their last six outings is handy form for Adelaide to take into the park of a thousand sauces. Their biggest hurdle could be the bye hangover. Central Coast Mariners played a good game against Sydney FC, but with only seven goals from eight games they are lacking firepower. Adelaide to scrape home.
Draw, draw, City, Perth, draw
The round opens with freefalling Western Sydney hosting the inconsistent Western United. Last time these two played it was a fiery encounter which saw United come from behind to take all three points, and despite being in much better form than the Wanderers, these two sides will play out the first of three draws I predict in this round. It’ll be high scoring, 2-2, 3-3 kinda game.
Another triple-header! Aren’t we being treated? Wellington is hosting the league leaders, and if you’d asked me four weeks ago, I would have called a Sky Blue whitewash. Now not so much. Wellington are in incredible form – that’s not to say Sydney aren’t, but it could definitely make this game more exciting than it once may have seemed. Sydney will soon start dropping points, and I genuinely think Wellington will be able to scrape a draw against the league leaders here.
Next up is the game I’m most looking forward to, the Melbourne Derby. City stamped their authority as a league favourite last Sunday, smacking Newcastle away in a performance that Mark Bosnich called “the best 90 minutes” he’s seen all season and honestly, all bias aside, I have to agree. City played incredibly well, and to pick that sort of form up going into the derby is very promising. Victory, on the other hand, are woeful. They were dominated at home by Wellington and, funnily enough, the most control I saw them have over the game was after they went down to ten men. City are going to dismantle the Victory, they will control the tempo of the game and Jamie Maclaren will score more than once. City, 4-0.
The triple-header ends with a rejuvenated Perth side showing that their early-season hiccup was just that, a hiccup. Two wins on the trot, hosting a demoralised Jets side who, after being crushed at home, now have to travel to the other side of the country against a form side in the comp? This could be ugly. Newy will mount a reputation recovery mission but will flounder helplessly as soon as Perth’s attack begins to click. Once it’s 1-0 the floodgates will open. It just depends when that first goal comes. Either way, it’s a Perth win on the horizon.
The lone Sunday game will be a snooze fest, Central Coast had an excellent game against Sydney, but they adopted a defensive style to achieve it. They’ll replicate it against Adelaide with more success. The Reds are coming off the bye and they will fight out a draw against the boys from Gosford.
|Round 11||Mike||Stuart||Paul||Tom||The Crowd|
|WSW vs WUN||WSU||WSU||Draw||Draw||WUN|
|WEL vs SYD||SYD||SYD||SYD||Draw||SYD|
|MCY vs MVC||MCY||MCY||MCY||MCY||MCY|
|PER vs NEW||PER||PER||PER||PER||PER|
|CCM vs ADL||Draw||CCM||ADE||Draw||ADL|