On Sunday afternoon I sat down with two fellow West Ham United fans at my local.
The A-League script writers were up until the wee hours during the past week producing upsets, sacking coaches and signing new players.
It has made for a dramatic seven days both on and off the pitch.
Round 15 features an original rivalry and opportunities for Western Sydney, Melbourne City and Western United to get their seasons back on track after inconsistent periods. The Roar will be looking to keep their unbeaten run going at home, while Wellington could move into second place behind Sydney FC should they beat Brisbane at Suncorp.
Good luck with your tips and be sure to enter them into the sheet below to have your say as the interactive voice of the crowd. Currently in equal second, the voice of the people will no doubt be somewhere near the lead when the season draws to a close in May.
Here are the thoughts of the panel on all the Round 15 matches.
Victory, Brisbane, City, United, Perth
Were Melbourne Victory simply Kurzed all along? Adelaide started like a house on fire under Gertjan Verbeek but the windblown Dutchman has started to resemble his German predecessor of late. Verbeek baked his team following their 3-0 loss to Perth Glory last weekend, but how will they respond? With a defeat to a Marco Kurz-less Victory is my guess.
Brisbane Roar should have won last weekend. That’s not to say they were necessarily the better team, but Brad Inman could only shoot straight at Dean Bouzanis when presented the chance to win the game. The Roar have looked marginally better in recent weeks and their luck will turn soon. I’ll roll the dice and say it’ll be against the Phoenix.
The Jets gave a more than decent account of themselves against Sydney FC last weekend but Melbourne City should really have too much class for the Novocastrians at home. City sounded like they were caught off guard by the departure of winger Javier Cabrera during the week, but they’ve still got more than enough firepower to win here.
I don’t know what to make of Western United. For all their talk of possession football, they’ve struggled in games they were arguably expected to win in recent weeks. This game could be a bit of a dour affair, with Mark Rudan’s team no doubt forced to work hard to unlock a compact Mariners defence. Expect this one to be settled by a solitary goal.
I just can’t tip Western Sydney Wanderers on current form. They’ll probably win this game and guarantee a stay of execution for Markus Babbel, but on paper it’s impossible to tip against Tony Popovic twisting the knife against his old club. The Wanderers are a rabble and have even been beaten to the punch in the sack race. Glory to nick a win here.
Victory, Wellington, City, United, Perth
It is hard to know what to make of Adelaide vs Victory in the city of churches. The Reds have lost four on the trot and Melbourne sacked their coach just two days ago. Could Gertjan Verbeek be next? I’m going with Victory based on the freshness brought about whenever a manager is moved on. There were obviously some issues in the sheds, and with a fresh start Victory should get the points against a nose-diving Adelaide.
And for the tip all my friends north of the border are eagerly awaiting: Wellington will travel to Brisbane and take the full complement against an improving Roar. My thinking here is far more about the Phoenix than their opposition. Ufuk Talay’s men are good – very good.
If Melbourne City don’t beat Newcastle at AAMI Park, well, you can probably finish that sentence in your own head. Newcastle were brave last week against Sydney FC yet far too often this season that’s all they have been. City were lucky to snatch a point against Brisbane and this is really a battle between two teams seemingly low on confidence. City to win.
Western United vs Central Coast is the toughest tip of the week in my view. United are spluttering and the Mariners buoyant after their fourth win of the season last Sunday against Victory. A win here could put them inside the top six. It will not happen, however, and United will get things back on track with a two-goal victory.
Western Sydney hosts the final match of the round against an ever-looming Perth. The Popovic derby will see the men from the west take all three and potentially move into second place on the ladder. In the long term Perth may well be Sydney’s biggest threat when it comes to the premiership plate. I just cannot trust the Wanderers’ form and can see the Glory taking this one easily.
Adelaide, Wellington, City, Central Coast, Western Sydney
For the second week in a row I find myself leading with news of a sacked coach. How’s this for a headline: ‘Simon the Sorcerer casts deadly Kurz on Victory’s coach’? Can we blame Matt Simon for Marco Kurz’s demise? After all, Victory weren’t going too bad before the Central Coast penalty-fest meltdown in the final ten minutes. This week Victory are away to the hopelessly inconsistent Adelaide in what used to be one of the league’s marquee fixtures. I see no quick fix for Victory and Adelaide should stumble over the line.
A slightly improved effort from Brisbane Roar last week featuring everyone’s new pin-up boy Brad Inman. They will have a tough job against Wellington Phoenix, who haven’t just been ticking boxes but highlighting them in fluoro yellow. The Nix might just nick it.
While Melbourne City appear to have the makings of a top-class team, they don’t have the consistency to challenge for the premiership. Newcastle put in some good minutes against Sydney last week but at AAMI Park I think they’ll find it too tough.
Central Coast’s coach Alen Stajcic might have just hit on a winning formula: keep in the game until near the end and then send on the human wrecking ball. Could you imagine Matt Simon on an archaeological dig? There’d be smashed amphorae and jars all over the place. Whatever you think of Matty’s abilities you can never doubt his commitment. I think they’ll give the snooze-boys from Western Melbourne a touch-up.
With Ernie Merrick and Marco Kurz departing in successive weeks, Markus Babbel must be happy that he got his Wanderers tattoo. It might have just kept him in a gig for a bit longer. Can he get his charges fired up for Wanderers old boy Tony Popovic’s assault? Can Mitch Duke prod some of Babbel’s flabby rabble into gear? There’s something in the air in Western Sydney this week. Okay, it’s smoke, but there are definitely no mirrors. Wanderers for the upset.
Draw, draw, City, Central Coast, Perth
My attempt at picking against the pack has thrown me into freefall, further and further adrift of my colleagues.
The round opens up with Adelaide hosting the original rivalry, and what a time for it! Sixth versus seventh, equal on points and both desperately needing a win to steady form. Last round was one to forget for both. Adelaide helped Perth in their continuing mission to make up for last year’s disappointments, and although they fell to a 3-0 defeat, the result didn’t truly represent the dynamic of the early portions of the game.
Melbourne Victory fans will feel as if the 19-20 season is Kurz-ed – sorry, I couldn’t resist. In the 90th minute of Sunday’s game Victory were in fifth and their season was back on track. The following nine minutes unfolded like a nightmare. Now Victory desperately need to win to keep in touch with the top six and I’m not sure if they can do it here on the road. The original rivalry will be ground out to a hard-fought draw.
Saturday opens with my current favourite team to watch, Wellington, travelling to ‘shaky at best’ Brisbane Roar, coming off a draw with Melbourne City in a game that I can only describe as odd. Should Brisbane be happy with the point? On one hand they were dominated all over the park, but on the other hand they led twice. How great are the Nix though? That Ulises Davila has been an absolute hidden gem. All things considered, this game will truly tell whether Brisbane are changing their tune. We’ll see another draw here, and Brad Inman will score again.
Next up is Melbourne City playing host to Newcastle in a fixture that when last played heaped expectation on City, something they don’t handle well at all. The lads from Melbourne showed resilience in their draw to Brisbane but again will be feeling as if it was an opportunity missed, taking 22 shots on goal to the Roar’s seven. The Jets, on the other hand, will be feeling the sting from their narrow loss to Sydney. It was a game in which they over-performed. We won’t be seeing that again. City to dominate 3-0.
In a show of huge generosity Western United are throwing open the gates to the masses, allowing entry to this game for a gold coin donation to assist with the bushfires. Despite criticism of this move suggesting it’s nothing more than a ploy to get numbers through the gates, it’s an excellent initiative that could see thousands raised.
As for the game, Western United are in a bad spot right now. They are fifth with both Victory and Adelaide breathing down their necks. Coming off the bye, they need to find form real soon. As for the Mariners, there’s a healthy chance the celebrations from Sunday are still going. Now just two points outside the six, a win here could be huge for Alan Stajcic’s men. I think they’ll pull it off – United just haven’t got the firepower to get it done in Geelong. Mariners 2-1.
Last but certainly not least: the most dangerous team in the comp right now, Perth Glory. Perth are on the road, travelling to a Wanderers side that makes you wonder just how much longer they’ll have a coach named Babbel. Perth, however, have been ruthless, winning an aggregate of 17-2 over their last five games. Can they keep it up? I think yes, for at least this week.
|Round 15||Mike||Stuart||Paul||Tom||The Crowd|
|ADL vs MVC||MVC||MVC||ADE||Draw||ADL|
|BRI vs WEL||BRS||WEL||WEL||Draw||WEL|
|MCY vs NEW||MCY||MCY||MCY||MCY||MCY|
|WUN vs CCM||WUN||WUN||CCM||CCM||DRAW|
|WSW vs PER||PER||PER||WSW||PER||PER|