Liverpool continued their unbeaten start to the Premier League season with a 3-1 victory over Arsenal at Anfield. The Gunners made a few changes from the side that beat Leicester City midweek as Mikel Arteta looked to go to Anfield and get a result.
As Sydney FC and Melbourne City cool their heels, the other A-League finalists prepare for elimination matches that will reduce the number of potential 2019/20 champions to four.
Western United have had a busy schedule of late and face a well-rested Roar on Sunday, whilst Wellington Phoenix and Perth Glory do battle a day earlier, with the winners moving within one game of a grand final.
In terms of The Roar expert tipping for the season, the champion has been crowned. Sadly, the lavish annual function to acknowledge him will not be held due to the pandemic, yet that should not lessen an appreciation of the mastery of his tipping; a full six matches clear of the usually reliable voice of the crowd and streets ahead of the other panellists.
Good luck with your tips for the elimination matches this weekend and be sure to enter your selections into the sheet below. Here is the way the panel sees the two matches playing out.
Forget their 3-0 hammering at the hands of the Newcastle Jets, it’s hard to see how Wellington Phoenix fail to down Perth Glory on the back of what has been one of the Kiwi side’s best campaigns in years. Glory look a shadow of their former selves without Diego Castro and it’s likely to show here.
It’s knock-out time now, and what that really means is that any team is in with a decent chance of winning the title. Plenty will peg Western United as the favourites to win this game but Brisbane Roar surely deserve some consideration as a dark horse. If it goes into extra-time, I’ll back the Roar.
Perth Glory are the ugly duckling of the finals in the eyes of many. Personally, I feel they are not without a chance in this match yet they’re also unlikely to win the whole kit and caboodle in a few weeks’ time. Wellington should do the business and advance, however, Tony Popovic will have his side set up to blunt the contest and create a dour affair, within which he feels his side may have a better chance of creating the upset.
Wellington by a single goal.
Get ready Brisbane fans, it is time to return to the good old days. Your beloved Roar are about to head into the second week of the A-League finals. Western United have played a heck of a lot of football recently and perhaps that played a role in their loss to City on Wednesday night.
This will be Mark Rudan’s team’s fifth match in 16 days and a fresh Brisbane will prove too disciplined in defence and manage to find a single goal to prevail.
Perth, Western United
I don’t know about you but I’ve found this end of season mad dash to the finish to be deliciously entertaining. All the players, clubs and officials deserve a big rap for the job they’ve done. The decision to play all the games at Bankwest is another good move although the reintroduction of VAR could make things tenser than a Fox Sports commentary box.
I created a table for competition points per game, post the COVID break, and it serves as a good guide to recent form – City 2.33, Western Utd 2.0, Brisbane 1.25, Perth 1.0, Sydney 0.83 and Wellington 0.83.
Wellington take on Perth on Saturday and according to my table will start as underdogs. The Phoenix have struggled since the break and were unconvincing against Newcastle. Perhaps their biggest issue is the lack of a standout goal scorer.
The Glory have conceded 14 goals after the break, more than any other team – a worrying statistic for coach Tony Popovic. However, their kingpins Bruno Fornaroli and Neil Kilkenny should step up and help Perth to victory.
Western United start as favourites for the game against Brisbane Roar. It’s easy to take too much out of their loss to Melbourne City on Wednesday. Mark Rudan organised his troops well, keeping aces Besart Berisha and Alessandro Diamante up his sleeve until late in a game that was pretty much irrelevant.
Brisbane Roar sit third on the form table mainly due to a solid defence that has conceded just four goals in their last four games. Jamie Young has been in top form and to my mind is the league’s best keeper. Dylan Wenzel-Halls has proven dangerous up front, as has the old warrior Scott McDonald.
The experience and skill of Diamante, Berisha, and Andrew Durante organising at the back should be enough to keep Western United in the finals in what should be an exciting game.
Finally! Finals are here.
With six teams remaining and the break in the season causing form to be all over the place, it’s truly anyone’s cup. I can’t wait.
First up we have a distance derby.
Both sides have been in poor form since the season restarted, Perth lacking that ‘oomph’ from last season, and Wellington seemingly having lost the killer instinct they possessed prior to the break.
In a tie that could swing either way, I’m predicting the Phoenix to put the final stamp on a disappointing season for the Glory.
Next up we’ve got a special game where Brisbane Roar take on Western United in their first-ever finals game, in their first-ever season. Whatever legacy Western United leave as a club, it all begins here.
Brisbane have been a solid team this season, and with decent to above average results since the restart they should not be ignored in this finals series. This, coupled with Western United’s poor mid-week outing against City, is enough to make me pick the boys in orange.
Brisbane to win in extra time.