Adelaide United are proving hard to dislodge from the A-League top six after taking seven points from their first three matches since the competition resumed.
Round 16 began as a straight forward prospect for A-League tipsters when Wellington and Sydney did the business last Friday.
Things went south quickly for many with Brisbane continuing their improved run, City and Perth being unable to find the net and four goals in the first 18 minutes setting up a high scoring win for the Reds on the road.
It didn’t bother Paul Nicholls however, only denied a perfect round by the final result of the weekend.
This week sees Brisbane face the acid test of Sydney, the return of the Babbel-less Wanderers and two matches with serious top-six ramifications, as Adelaide host City and Perth lay out the red carpet for the Victory.
Be sure to place your tips into the sheet below and have a say as the interactive voice of the crowd. Good luck and here are the thoughts of the panel on all the Round 17 A-League action.
Sydney, Newcastle, Adelaide, Draw, Western Sydney
Even without Alexander Baumjohann, who is turning into the A-League’s ultimate wind-up merchant, it’s hard to see how the Sky Blues fail to win in Kogarah. They towelled Brisbane Roar up in a previous meeting at the venue and appear to be coasting to another premiership. They’ll lose again before the season is out, but it’s not likely to be here.
Newcastle were slightly unfortunate to go down 2-1 to Wellington Phoenix last week, although the more pressing concern is why they’re yet to announce Carl Robinson as coach. Not much has gone their way this season but with Wes Hoolahan set to return, I reckon they’re ripe for an upset. I’ll go against the grain and back the Jets to win.
Brace yourself: it’s the clash of the A-League’s two most eccentric coaches! I’d like to see Adelaide win for no other reason than its fun to watch Gertjan Verbeek give Fox Sports nothing in his post-match interviews.
Melbourne City continue to veer between the most exciting and most boring team in the comp, so hopefully the Reds nick this one.
Perth Glory tried to bore Melbourne City to death last weekend, and they’re likely to try and stifle the life out of Victory here. The latter are coming off a superb AFC Champions League playoff win over Kashima midweek, and they look a different side now that Marco Kurz has left the building. Hard to separate these two, even if Victory are fatigued.
I seem to tip against the Mariners every week, which is probably a sensible thing to do, because they seem to lose every week. But they shouldn’t.
They’re a better side under Alen Stajcic than their points tally suggests, but they just don’t know how to score goals. This looms as three points for the taking for the suddenly Markus Babbel-less visitors.
Sydney, United, Adelaide, Perth, Central Coast
At this point in the season it might be prudent to enter my tips without a comment on matches involving the Brisbane Roar, so horrific has my tipping become when they are involved. However, this one is easy. Sydney to win 2-0, comfortably.
Western United need to beat Newcastle in the Hunter or risk losing their spot in the top six. They will. It will be another brave and stoic effort from the Jets yet such performances are not proving enough to earn regular points and they appear certain to drift further distant at the foot of the ladder.
I am finding Adelaide a tough team to read right now. Come to think of it, City are also up and down like a sewing machine of late as well. Coopers Stadium to be the deciding factor in this one, in what will be a feisty encounter. Nikola Mileusnic and Riley McGree will again prove difficult to handle.
Melbourne Victory enjoyed a terrific result mid-week, playing a near full strength team against the Antlers. They will be ecstatic but fatigued.
Perth Glory are unlikely to be held scoreless on the run home to the finals, as they were last week, and will make amends with a thumping win at home against a potentially three-quarter strength Victory.
Once again the Mariners went down in a creditable performance last week against the Roar, with chances to win the match late that somehow failed to materialise.
The Wanderers come off the bye and a tumultuous week, as well as the hope of a fresh and energised run to the finals with a new man at the helm. Tough to pick and likely to feature multiple goals, this match will be entertaining and the home fans will be cheering all the way to the club post game.
Mariners to win 3-2 with Matt Simon to score late.
Sydney, Newcastle, City, Perth, Central Coast
Sydney FC come off the back of a good away win in the Big Blue. Melbourne Victory took the game up to the Sky Blues early on but as I predicted in this very column last week, Sydney were too good.
They won’t have it all their own way against a Brisbane Roar side that is slowly improving, but not enough to stop the blue juggernaut.
Despite losing, Newcastle put in a decent shift across the ditch last week against the Phoenix. Their opponents this week, Western United, produced one of their least Rudan-like performances against Adelaide, their defence at times resembling the Keystone Cops. Newcastle will be the ones having the last laugh this week.
Adelaide came out ahead in the carnival-like atmosphere at Footscray last week. Didn’t you love the backdrop of Melbourne suburbia to that game?
How will they go in Adelaide suburbia against the best of the Melbourne clubs? I think they’ll come back to earth as Melbourne City looked to be getting back into gear against a hot Perth team. City to win.
Speaking of Perth Glory, they should be able to knock off Melbourne Victory who are coming off the back of a heroic but exhausting trip to Japan. It is sad news for Victory that Thomas Deng won’t be with them anymore. He was a great player for the club but everyone in Australian football will surely wish him well in the J-League.
The Central Coast against Western Sydney is a tricky one to tip. Recent history tells me that teams who dump their coach don’t back up that well, so I’ll tip the Mariners.
Sydney, Draw, City, Draw, Mariners
My run of tipping against Sydney FC in hopes of a huge upset comes to an end this week, I’ve fallen well adrift in my tips and although it being early in the season, nothing less than perfection will pick this back up.
Sydney host a Brisbane side who are suddenly pushing seriously for a spot in the top 6, who can say that the A-League isn’t enthralling?! Sydney themselves are coming off a comprehensive 3-0 win in the Big Blue in Melbourne, a game which truly showed how far the Victory have fallen since the Antonis miracle a couple seasons back.
Sydney will win, start engraving the premiers plate.
Saturday’s tripleheader opens with the Jets hosting Western United in a game that could very well define this season for the boys in black and green. Newy will be feeling like last week’s loss was a huge opportunity missed, they peppered the Phoenix goal only for Stefan Marinovic to play villain for the day and hand all three points to the Phoenix.
Western United held Besart Berisha’s 200th game in stunning fashion, the use of a smaller stadium like Whitten Oval was an overall good decision, and could definitely pave the way in the future for smaller stadiums to be used in Australian football. Ultimately they were shaken off by the dominant Adelaide United, but the game wasn’t without its tense moments.
This game will end a draw, with the Novocastrians dominant for the large parts of the game.
Next up we have an FFA Cup final replay! Adelaide United are hosting Melbourne City for the first time since their 4-0 rout to lift the first piece of silverware this season, will we see a repeat? Doubtful.
Since that game, City have comprehensively kept pace with the league leaders (as well as they could have, Sydney have been immense) whilst Adelaide have been the ‘poster boy’ for inconsistency in the league.
Adelaide are coming off a goalfest in Footscray, while City are coming off quite the opposite, after playing out the fourth 0-0 draw of the season. It was a tense night at AAMI Park and despite no goals being scored, you could see quality oozing from both Melbourne and Perth all evening.
City will get revenge for the cup final here, finally breaking their recent Hindmarsh Hoodoo.
Last up, Perth are hosting the wayward Melbourne Victory, and could very well heap more misery on the navy blue faithful.
Popovic will be out for blood after his side couldn’t break City’s wall down, and Victory’s lacklustre defence just got worse with Thomas Deng announcing his move to Japan. They are ripe for the picking.
In positive news for Melbourne, Marco Rojas has returned! And he is eligible to play. He could be a difference-maker up front but, unfortunately, a lack of decent midfielders could make life hard for the Kiwi Messi.
I think this will be a free-flowing game with lots of goals scored, ultimately ending in a draw.
Sunday’s solitary game is pretty much a dead rubber, with both sides seemingly not having the tools to get into the six, and both sides not being nearly as bad as Newcastle.
Central Coast are hosting Western Sydney after their incredibly disappointing loss at the hands of Brisbane late in the game last week. Alan Stajcic would have been furious in the locker rooms post-game after letting that slip, and he’ll smell blood in the water over at the Wanderers camp.
Western Sydney are coming off the Bye and it’s going to be their first game since the sacking of Marcus Babbel, so there’s substantial pressure on the side to perform.
And they’re going to crumble underneath that pressure, Mariners to win 2-0.
|Round 17||Mike||Stuart||Paul||Tom||The Crowd|
|SYD vs BRI||SYD||SYD||SYD||SYD||SYD|
|NEW vs WUN||NEW||WUN||NEW||DRAW||NEW|
|ADL vs MCY||ADL||ADL||MCY||MCY||MCY|
|PER vs MVC||Draw||PER||PER||Draw||PER|
|CCM vs WSW||WSW||CCM||CCM||CCM||?|