As difficult as it might be to believe, three A-League matches still stand a chance of being played over the course of this coming weekend, with another three slated for the following Wednesday.
It would be well deserved for the fans should they finally get to see a decent week of action, with some COVID-affected teams now having multiple players returning after their isolation periods. Saturday sees the second F3 Derby of the season, a ripper between the Reds and Melbourne City in Adelaide and Sydney FC do battle with Brisbane Roar for the second time in four days in the harbour city.
Adelaide, Newcastle, Central Coast and City all back up next Wednesday, with Western United and Western Sydney joining the fray. Well, that is the plan, anyway!
Good luck with your tips for the weekend and be sure to enter them in the sheet below to have a say as the ever-important voice of The Crowd. Texi Smith has a handy lead in the tipping yet there is a long way to go in season 2021-22.
Here is the way the panel sees all the action unfolding across what looms as an interesting set of matches.
Central Coast, Draw, Sydney, Draw, Western Sydney, City
It’s difficult to tip in the current climate, but hopefully we get some football in! The Mariners have proved much tougher to beat this season than might have been expected and had recorded back-to-back 2-0 wins before the string of postponements. The Jets have blown hot and cold so far and I suspect the home side will edge the latest derby.
Adelaide United were unlucky not to take all three points off Melbourne Victory last weekend, but the Reds’ squad is starting to look a bit bare. That said, Carl Veart’s team never takes a backwards step and they won’t fear the visit of the defending champions.
These two sides have already drawn once this season and could repeat the feat here.
After the two sides met in the FFA Cup in midweek, Sydney FC host Brisbane Roar in league action once again. The Sky Blues always looked one decent performance away from clicking into gear and easily dispatched Macarthur FC in their most recent A-League clash. Brisbane Roar’s youngsters will give it their all, but this is a home banker.
Will the Jets be better off for their derby run-out a few days earlier? They’ve only won one game all season but Arthur Papas’ side have shown glimpses of their attacking threat, not least in the 4-0 win over Wellington.
Western United have been tough to break down but have only scored five goals so far. Is it a stretch to tip this as a draw?
The news that Lachlan Brooks is on his way back to Adelaide United is good news for a Reds side that needs a few reinforcements. They’re always tough to beat at Coopers Stadium, but they’ll run into a Wanderers side desperate to start winning. The visitors were unlucky not to do so against Melbourne City, but they could stun the Reds here.
For all their strength and depth, Melbourne City continue to flatter to deceive in their title defence. They were all at sea defensively in the 3-3 draw with Western Sydney and while the defending champions possess plenty of firepower, they haven’t really clicked so far.
Is this the game where it all comes together for Paddy Kisnorbo?
I suspect so.
Central Coast, Draw, Sydney, Newcastle, Adelaide, Draw
The Mariners have made monkeys out of all of us again, and while the Jets are a threat (particularly in a derby), I think home advantage will get Nick Montgomery’s team over the line.
Adelaide are the draw specialists, even under extraordinary circumstances, and although they may be without several key personnel (Isaias in particular), that early season comeback against City will be fresh in the mind.
City are not yet firing on all cylinders and I think a stalemate is the most likely outcome.
Brisbane travel to Sydney with a severely depleted squad to face the Sky Blues twice (once in the Cup). Most of Sydney’s COVID cases are now on the mend and I cannot see the A-League Men’s cellar dwellers springing a surprise.
The Jets entertain Western on Wednesday (COVID notwithstanding), but John Aloisi’s team have been hit severely by the virus. I’m not even sure this one will go ahead – but if it does, that impact points towards a home win.
I’m also tipping Adelaide to see off the Wanderers at Coopers on the same night, and for the Mariners to continue their recent revival by taking a point off City at AAMI Park.
Jets, City, Sydney, Western United, Adelaide, City
The Mariners and Jets is always a cracking affair and this edition should be no different. It is also a mighty tricky one to line up with the improved Jets dangerous in attack and the Mariners proving yet again they people’s estimations of them pre-season were well off. A tight Jets triumph.
Adelaide at home is also a tricky match to gauge, yet the visitors look to have plenty of goals in them and the Reds were a little fortunate to gain a point against a Victory side that should have taken all three last weekend.
Sydney looked to be improving before the short break most team have had, they should beat Brisbane and it would be nigh impossible to tip any other way.
The Jets may struggle backing up against a fresh team next Wednesday and John Aloisi’s United could well take top spot should other fixtures play out to their advantage. The Reds play at home once again when the Wanderers travel to them and it is hard to see the visitors winning after indifferent form throughout their opening six matches of the season.
The final match on what could be a thrilling mid-week of football sees City and Central Coast back up, with changes to both starting 11s almost certain. That sends my preference City’s way, with the depth in their squad potentially seeing them through the busy period ahead a little better than many other teams.
Central Coast, City, Sydney, United, Western Sydney, City
The F3 derby, one of those beautifully named fixtures on the football calendar, referencing the historical name of the road between the towns of Gosford and Newcastle, is a much-anticipated game in both camps, with both teams light on for recent football.
Central Coast’s victory four weeks ago against the Wanderers was another display of home dominance and we’ll see that continue here as the Jets toil and look the most likely in the first half with Daniel Penha sparkling. But a professional second half display from the home team and a classy Glenn Hoddle-style Cy Goddard chip will see the Mariners take the honours.
Adelaide United at home is usually a home banker for me. There is something special about playing at Coopers Stadium, expectations are high for entertaining football and with the champions in town, the locals will be smelling the anxiety that is building up in the City camp.
But this is Melbourne City, and they have quality across the park. The much-maligned Mathew Leckie will prove his doubters wrong here, outscoring Craig Goodwin in an entertaining 3-2 win for the visitors.
With FFA Cup out of the way on Wednesday night, the scene will be set for the main event between Sydney FC and Brisbane Roar, the return of Luke Ivanovic to his spiritual home and a match-up between two teams who are nowhere near where they ought to be.
Expect fireworks as Nikola Mileusnic silences the vocal home crowd and Roar lead at the break. The calm home players though will rise to the occasion upon the introduction of Milos Ninkovic and Patrick Wood, and the two will combine to steer the ship and give Sydney another win, sneaking the winner minutes from the end.
Western United missed out on an easy three points at Macarthur on Friday night, and they will go into their first fixture of 2022 ready to hand out a hiding. Dylan Wenzel-Halls has a goal in him and the returning Alessandro Diamanti will be the key.
Despite Olivier Boumale and Valentino Yuel providing the trickery down he wings for Newcastle, their inability to turn possession into goals will haunt them and a single strike on the break from superstar Dylan Pierias will be the difference.
Wanderers’ change in fortunes at Melbourne City was as refreshing as it was unexpected. This time they get the opportunity to prove their doubters wrong when they travel to a zesty Adelaide United. This one is a flip of the coin; on one day, Adelaide would absolutely murder Wanderers by pressing from the opening whistle, on another, they would retreat into their shell and meekly fold to defeat.
I’m going against all my good judgement and tipping the latter – a Wanderers win here, Jack Rodwell on fire.
Have the wheels come off the Melbourne City juggernaut? This is as good a time as any to play the champions on their own turf and the Mariners will be up for a result here. It’s hardly a fortress and there are leaks in their defence that a slick passing team can exploit.
But just when you think there are chinks in the armour and the swagger has disappeared, they can pull out a big performance to remind the doubters of their credentials. As they did on the weekend, City will provide much entertainment in another high scoring game, and another win for the reigning Premiers.
|Match Week 10||Mike||Simon||Stuart||Texi||The Crowd|
|CCM vs NEW||CCM||CCM||NEW||CCM||?|
|ADL vs MCY||DRAW||DRAW||MCY||MCY||MCY|
|SYD vs BRI||SYD||SYD||SYD||SYD||SYD|
|NEW vs WUN||DRAW||NEW||WUN||WUN||?|
|ADL vs WSW||WSW||ADL||ADL||WSW||?|
|MCY vs CCM||MCY||DRAW||MCY||MCY||?|
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