Perth Glory will slowly build up star recruit Daniel Sturridge’s fitness as they settle into their A-League Men stint on the road.
Well here we are folks, the run home to the A-League finals. Every club has either four or five matches remaining in its schedule and the extra encounter up the sleeves of Brisbane Roar and Perth Glory could well be telling come seasons’ end.
Brisbane, Melbourne City, Western Sydney and Wellington back up over the next five days, with two crucial matches potentially deciding their fates for season 2020-21.
Good luck with your tips for the week and be sure to enter them in the sheet below to have a say in the voice of the crowd. With just three match weeks remaining, the opinion of the crowd could still snatch victory with 23 games yet to be played.
Here are the thoughts and predictions of the panel on all the Match Week 22 action.
Brisbane, Wellington, Draw, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Draw
It’s been a season to forget for the Newcastle Jets. The club continues to be run on a shoestring budget and since there’s not much Craig Deans can do with the limited talent at his disposal, this looks like three points for the taking for a desperate Brisbane Roar.
After more than a year on the road, Wellington Phoenix finally return to the Cake Tin! They’ll make it count and take three points against a Western United side for whom stalwart and former Phoenix legend Andrew Durante just announced his retirement.
Melbourne City are the best team in the league, but they’ll want to avoid losing too much momentum before the finals get under way. This is a bit of a litmus test for both sides and with the Mariners out to prove they can still cut it with the best, this game could finish all square.
No team has flattered to deceive more than Sydney FC this season, with the Sky Blues fortunate to jag a 1-0 win over Western United in Ballarat. They’ll be fired up for the derby though, and should cast aside the fact this game is at the SCG, to secure a much-needed win over Western Sydney.
Weirdly enough, Melbourne Victory have looked a much better side under Steve Kean than they did under Grant Brebner. They haven’t got much to play for here, however, and Adelaide United should take full advantage against their bitter foes.
I keep writing Perth Glory off and they keep going ahead and smashing unsuspecting visitors. I thought they’d be well and truly out of the finals race by now, but another win here would really set the cat among the pigeons. I’m not convinced by Macarthur, so it’s the home side to win it for me.
Brisbane Roar to beat Melbourne City at home? Sure, why not! I honestly reckon Redcliffe on a Tuesday night is probably not the easiest place to go and secure all three points. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, City fans!
At this stage of the season, I must admit I get more enjoyment from tipping against Western Sydney Wanderers than I do from actually tipping the correct result. Still, they should be good enough to secure at least a point against the travel-weary Wellington. Shouldn’t they?
Newcastle, Wellington, Draw, Sydney, Victory, Perth, City, Wellington
People in Brisbane don’t appear to like me very much. Not sure why really, but my tip for the opening match of the week might well double them down on their sentiments. I can see the Jets winning this one at home. My crystal ball told me.
The Phoenix should celebrate a return home with a massacre over Western United, Sydney FC will win the derby against the Wanderers despite a recent run of outs in that fixture and for the first time in a heck of a long time I am picking a draw.
Central Coast will be out to shock the pending champions and do so on the road.
Victory have looked so much better under their new manager. Can they topple Adelaide and throw a top six spanner in the works for the Reds? Yep, I think they can. Perth Glory are humming along and will beat Macarthur in the west on Sunday before Brisbane put it all on the line against City in Redcliffe on Tuesday night.
The home side will need another substandard pitch to have any chance. Based on the hope that will not happen, I’ll go with City.
The final match of the week will be a last chance for Wellington on the road against Western Sydney. One has form, one doesn’t. Let’s do this Wellington, you deserve it after the challenges you have faced this season.
Brisbane, Wellington, City, Sydney, Adelaide, Macarthur, City, Western Sydney
He’s the nude nut in the moon boot with the bulging pecs, perched on an esky. My kind of football coach. With Melbourne City all but certain to claim its first ever Premiers’ Plate, maybe it’s time we gave Patrick Kisnorbo the recognition he deserves. His team have been providing a mother lode of tipping gold for weeks.
Newcastle will want to bounce back after their disappointing defeat in the F3 Derby. Brisbane have gone into their shell since I started tipping them but they will have more to play for and should win.
Wellington make a return to the land of the long white cloud. Western United will be the most hated sporting team in the world if they ruin the Phoenix’s homecoming. It’s Wellington’s party, and they can cry if they want to.
Melbourne City are not quite there yet and Central Coast will be a dangerous opponent. The Mariners needed a marshmallow penalty to defeat Newcastle and I can’t see them getting more lollies against Paddy’s boys. Western Sydney’s last four matches have yielded 22 goals. Unfortunately they haven’t all been in the for column. Sydney FC too good at home.
Melbourne Victory are another favourite of us tipsters. Tip against them and you can’t go wrong. Adelaide in a canter. It is a massive game for Macarthur at Perth in a test of their Championship credentials. I think we’ll hear bells at the end of this game.
City might take their foot off the gas next Tuesday but should still get the points against Brisbane. On Wednesday the Wanderers will beat the Tasman-crossing Phoenix.
Brisbane, United, City, Sydney, Victory, Perth, Brisbane, Wellington
The best season ever of the A League still has some outrageous twists and turns to come in these last few rounds.
Those twists will not involve Melbourne City though, who will be crowned Premiers this weekend. And we all know that the Premiers are the best, the finals are just a bit of fun, right?
Brisbane Roar have some tricky games to navigate in order to make the top six, but they should wipe aside a Newcastle team that couldn’t contain an out of form Mariners last week.
We’ll finally see some of the magic that Golgol Mebrahtu has on his CV, reacting first to the rebound from a Jay O’Shea free kick to rabona the ball into the top corner for the winner.
Wellington are looking the goods at the moment and they are desperate for the points in their first home game of the season.
Jaushua Sotirio will fire the home team in front against a Western United side also scrapping to sneak into the top six, but in a major about-turn late in the game, with Alessandro Diamanti pulling the strings, Dylan Pierias will score twice to shock the massive crowd and reignite the green and black chances of making the finals.
Melbourne City’s firepower will sweep aside a faltering Central Coast to claim the title. The Mariners will show all the stubborn resolve that has got them to second spot, but they will be picked apart by Craig Noone and Adrian Luna, a two-goal halftime lead turning into a rout by the end and the cheers loud at the final whistle.
A second Sydney derby in a matter of weeks will produce more goals at the SCG, but it is destined to be another close affair. Milos Ninkovic will dance through the defence to open the scoring, Wanderers will rally with Scott McDonald equalising and a flurry of goals in the second half in a rollercoaster of a game will end with Rhyan Grant racing over to the Wanderers fans with his arms aloft after jabbing home the winner in injury time.
Two teams with ropey form come face to face at AAMI Park. Adelaide need to back up last week’s win to maintain their course for a finals berth, but they will struggle against Victory. The home side will turn on the style; Jacob Butterfield scoring and setting one up for Rudy Gestede, Melbourne Victory giving their fans a treat to keep them interested for next year’s return to form.
Perth have hit a rich seam of home wins that they must continue against Macarthur to keep the dream alive. Last week’s demolition against the Wanderers was an aberration though, and they will find Macarthur a more stubborn nut to crack. Markel Susaeta will have his worldie of an opener cancelled out by Bruno Fornaroli and Perth will then go on to get a winner from an unfortunate own goal.
The Premiers of the A-League will strut around Redcliffe like they own the joint.
Jamie Maclaren will have the visitors a goal up inside two minutes against the Roar after the home side give the Premiers a guard of honour as they enter the field.
The hosts will assert themselves in the second half though, and the cocky City will be undone by a Joey Champness double to maintain the Brisbane march on the coveted top six places.
A glorious chance for Wanderers to dispose of one of their direct competitors for sixth spot is the recipe for a classic at Bankwest. Wellington will be up for this one and a display of attacking football will see them ahead at the break through Tomer Hemed.
A second half blitz of Wanderers strike power will have them in the lead, but two further goals towards the end from the desperate Phoenix sends the three points to New Zealand, keeping their faint hopes of making the six alive.
|Match Week 22||Mike||Stuart||Paul||Texi||The Crowd|
|NEW vs BRI||BRI||NEW||BRI||BRI||BRI|
|WEL vs WUN||WEL||WEL||WEL||WUN||WEL|
|MCY vs CCM||Draw||Draw||MCY||MCY||MCY|
|SYD vs WSW||SYD||SYD||SYD||SYD||SYD|
|MVC vs ADL||ADL||MVC||ADL||MVC||ADL|
|PER vs MAC||PER||PER||MAC||PER||PER|
|BRI vs MCY||BRI||MCY||MCY||BRI||MCY|
|WSW vs WEL||Draw||WEL||WSW||WEL||WSW|