At the time of writing, Match Week 6 of the A-League Men competition had been struck by the effects of COVID-19 and could well be affected further over the coming days.
What we do know at this point in time is that the Jets and Wanderers will play behind closed doors on Sunday, followed by Melbourne Victory versus Western United and Macarthur FC versus Sydney FC a few hours later.
That leaves just the lone game to be played on Monday between the Mariners and the Phoenix in Gosford.
Let’s hope all the matches slated do go ahead and good luck with your tips should that indeed be the case.
Texi Smith continues to hold the tipping lead and here are his and the rest of the panel’s thoughts on all the festive action.
Jets, Victory, Draw, Mariners
The Jets are clearly a talented outfit but they’ll likely blow hot and cold this season.
On paper you’d expect the visitors to win this one, but I suspect Arthur Papas might finally put Carl Robinson out of his misery behind closed doors.
Western United have proved one of the toughest sides to beat in the league this season and they’ve certainly got a resolute defence.
So too do Victory, who look a side reborn under Tony Popovic. It was Victory who clinched a tight 1-0 win on the opening weekend of the season, and they might repeat the feat here.
Macarthur stormed home to overwhelm the Jets last weekend and under Ante Milicic, they’ve perfected the art of recording narrow victories.
They’ve already beaten the Sky Blues once this season, however Steve Corica will be determined to shake off Sydney FC’s slow start to the season. This one could finish all square.
The Mariners are flying high and pulverised APIA Leichhardt 6-0 in the FFA Cup in midweek.
They might come unstuck soon, but it’s unlikely to be against the peripatetic Phoenix. Expect all three points to stay in Gosford for this one.
Western Sydney, Victory, Draw, Mariners
If it’s not yet the last chance saloon for the Wanderers in their present guise, then the fat lady has surely entered the room and is warming up. They simply have to get a result in Newcastle.
Not so easy when the Jets have a very dangerous front four – but this is the way the A-League Men goes historically. All the evidence points to a Jets win. So, Wanderers, obviously.
Victory showed great fortitude in grabbing a draw in the Melbourne derby. They’ll need patience too, to overcome a resolute Western defence that hasn’t conceded in six and a bit hours. But that can’t last forever – and Western don’t score too many up the other end.
Sydney are starting to piece their season together and they’ve already beaten Macarthur in the Cup. But the Bulls are the early-season pace-setters and showed their mettle in coming from behind to defeat the Jets. Draw.
Wellington are in a bit of a hole. I think they need some reinforcements through the spine of their team.
The Mariners have been super-aggressive, particularly at home, and I can’t see the Phoenix putting an end to their good run.
Newcastle, Victory, Macarthur, Central Coast
If anyone thinks I am silly enough to pick the Wanderers with all the uncertainty around the club, they are seriously deluded.
Western Sydney are a rabble, broken, busted and forlorn. Expect the Jets to bounce back after a poor capitulation against the Bulls last week.
I think we have all seen enough to believe that Melbourne Victory are the real deal in 2021-22. I certainly have.
Western are very, very good as well. What a match this stands to be. Victory by a single goal, scored in the dying embers of the contest.
Did Sydney FC rediscover their mojo against Wellington last week? Well they were better, but far from polished. Macarthur are a top two side in waiting and will send the Sky Blues away from Campbelltown Stadium with nothing to show for their efforts.
The Mariners are riding high and after having rested a few top liners midweek, they should be too strong for the Phoenix on the Central Coast.
This could well be the game of the round in terms of open play and entertainment. Let’s hope so, but the home side look good things for the three points to shoot further up the A-League Men ladder.
Western Sydney, Victory, Sydney, Central Coast
The Jets will be absolutely fuming after they were given a harsh lesson in finishing at Macarthur last week.
Their striking options of Valentino Yuel, Beka Mikeltadze and the surprise star Olivier Boumal will be looking to put things right, and Daniel Penha gives them a touch of silk in midfield.
Where they’ll get found out, though, will be at the back and an unexpectedly spritely Wanderers will finally find their scoring touch.
Tomer Hemed will be at the heart of everything good, and the returning hero Steven Ugarkovic will plant his Western Sydney flag into the empty home terraces with a late winner and an over-the-top celebration.
Victory in third, Western United in second, this has a classic written all over it. The strength that Melbourne Victory possess in their squad is starting to count. There are some game-changers who can come off the bench and flick a switch and they will be buoyed by their late comeback against City last week.
But the ‘home’ side have Alessandro Diamanti and he can unlock any defence with a mesmerising array of pinpoint accurate through balls. Despite Dylan Pierias giving United the lead, Victory will convert their chances ruthlessly and win the game 3-1.
When Macarthur FC went to Sydney FC last month, Tomi Uskok had a large selection of Sky Blue players in his pocket. With veteran EPL star Adrian Mariappa alongside him, and Daniel De Silva ready to inflict more pain on his former club, the home team can take advantage of the home support and give their opponents a rough ride.
But you just never know with Sydney FC. They have big game players and this is the biggest Sydney derby they’ll have this season. Bobo will latch on to a Rhyan Grant through ball to steer home the only goal of the game.
The Mariners have a chance to shine against a Phoenix team struggling to get any traction this year. A run of home games is building momentum and the midweek thrashing of APIA in the FFA Cup signalled their current mood. With Cy Goddard breaking the seal on his goal scoring, we should start to see more.
Wellington Phoenix, with goalkeeper woes but a very able replacement in the crazy-haired Alex Paulsen, will be on the back foot for the whole game.
Despite some counter-attacking bravado, they will be well and truly flattened. This should be at least a three-goal win.
|Match Week 6||Mike||Simon||Stuart||Texi||The Crowd|
|NEW vs WSW||NEW||WSW||NEW||WSW||?|
|MVC vs WUN||MVC||MVC||MVC||MVC||?|
|MAC vs SYD||Draw||Draw||MAC||SYD||?|
|CCM vs WEL||CCM||CCM||CCM||CCM||?|