For the second time in just three weeks, football novelist Texi Smith has shown both the panel and the roar of the crowd a clean pair of heels. With five correct selections in Round 15, he has now joined the voice of the people at the top of the tipping table.
Round 16 looks, on paper, the toughest to date this season, with a toss of the coin approach seemingly appropriate for at least four of the matches. Good luck with your tips and be sure to enter them in the sheet below to have a say in the fans’ selections.
Here is the way the panel sees all the action unfolding across the upcoming weekend.
Draw, Adelaide, Western Sydney, City, Draw, Macarthur
Of all the clubs that did some decent business during the January transfer window, Brisbane Roar certainly weren’t one of them.
They’re looking more and more short on quality with every passing week. That said, they were unfortunate to lose to Adelaide United last weekend and they’re always a tough side to beat in Redcliffe.
The Mariners let an opportunity slip in their narrow defeat to Sydney FC last time out, but they tend to save their best performances for home. This one could finish all square.
What in the world has happened to Western United? They should have lost by more to Western Sydney last weekend and they just can’t seem to find the spark required to kick-start their season.
They come up against one of the trickiest opponents in the league for this clash at AAMI Park, and although the Reds are missing a few players through injury, they’ll fancy their chances of nicking all three points.
Much will depend on whether Nestory Irankunda can make another big impact off the bench.
The Sydney derby is the marquee fixture of the round, and if it’s anything like the first derby of the season, it’ll be a fiery affair.
Western Sydney were good value for their 1-0 win over Western United last weekend and they won’t fear the visit of the Sky Blues now that Marko Rudan is in charge.
Sydney FC had to come from behind to see off the Mariners at home last weekend, but they’ll need to lift their intensity here. The question is whether they can match it with the fired-up Wanderers. I don’t think they can.
Perth Glory have done well to mount a fightback under Ruben Zadkovich, and they probably should have beaten the Newcastle Jets last weekend. They’ve got a couple of handy players in their midst, with central defender Mark Beevers a real leader.
I don’t think this game will be a pushover for Melbourne City, and Adam Taggart gives the Glory some genuine firepower. But with City having just appointed Rado Vidosic on a full-time basis, it’s hard to tip against a team in their sort of form.
The Newcastle Jets needed a late equaliser to snatch a point from Perth Glory last weekend, and they continue to struggle to see off opponents under Arthur Papas.
Three points are arguably there for the taking against an out-of-sorts Melbourne Victory, but aside from the in-form Reno Piscopo, it’s hard to find a real match-winner here. Melbourne Victory found some semblance of form in their 3-1 win over Wellington Phoenix.
They’ve got an in-form Jake Brimmer, but this could still finish in a draw.
A 6-1 hammering at the hands of Melbourne City was not the outing Mile Sterjovski had hoped for last weekend. The big consolation for the new Macarthur coach is the fact that this game is at home.
The Phoenix tend to struggle on the road, and while they gave a good account of themselves in Melbourne last weekend, they won’t necessarily relish having to make the long trip to Campbelltown for this one.
The Bulls will be hoping to bounce back, and they might just be good enough to jag all three points here.
Central Coast, Adelaide, Sydney, City, Newcastle, Wellington,
Both Brisbane and Central Coast are struggling for points right now and this fixture will rejuvenate the team able to take three away from Redcliffe. Frankly, it is a tight call. However, the Mariners are better than recent results suggest and should bounce back with a win after the narrow loss to Sydney FC last Saturday.
Western United had a chance to keep their season rolling, yet blew it against the Wanderers last Sunday. Adelaide scored late to beat Brisbane and neither are in sparkling form.
The home ground might do the trick here and Western Sydney will be hoping for the same when they tackle Sydney FC in the blockbuster derby on Saturday night. The Sky Blues will win, with Adam le Fondre back in some form and the Sydney defence able to blunt what remains an unconvincing Wanderers attack.
Perth host a rampant Melbourne City, back in form after three successive draws. Watch out Perth, City will be hungry for more and even Macedonia Park may not be enough to save the Glory.
Newcastle versus Melbourne Victory will be a crucial game for both, with the loser starting to edge towards must win situations in the near future. The Beka’s will star in this one, as the Jets creep inside the top six.
Goodness me, Macarthur and Wellington. I simply have no idea who to pick in this game. Wellington are a very well organised football team and in close to call games, that might be the best indicator, especially against a hit and miss Bulls.
Central Coast, Draw, Western Sydney, Draw, Newcastle, Wellington
Until last season, the Roar were something of a bogey side for the Mariners. The only bogey existing now for Nick Montgomery’s team is the Brian Kaltak-sized hole that needs to be filled after the big defender’s red card against Sydney FC.
The possible silver lining to that cloud is that Brisbane rarely look capable of scoring against any defence. The Mariners have no such trouble.
Despite sitting seven places apart on the ladder, the form of Western United and Adelaide over the last 10 games is an identical 4-3-3 (sounds like a curriculum!). Western can’t seem to string results together but don’t often let teams get away from them.
Adelaide have retained a top four spot despite indifferent performances for weeks and needed a special late strike from super-sub and Joey, Nestory Irankunda, to get by the Roar. There’s little to separate the two sides (well, apart from 7 points).
A bigger question than the result of the Sydney Derby is will the fans turn up? It wouldn’t have been unreasonable to expect an automatic sell-out at Bankwest Stadium but the Wanderers fans seem to have adopted their team’s nickname of late, despite the side sitting clear second on the ladder.
The Sky Blues’ mini-revival has coincided with Adam Le Fondre finding his scoring touch again. It’s a game that deserves a packed house at one of the best viewing grounds in the country.
You just wonder, don’t you? This love affair the Glory are having with Macedonia Park, the unbeaten streak at home, a resurgence that sees them sit just out of the top six. But it’s Melbourne City who are the visitors… and they’re coming off their biggest win of the season.
Despite this, there’s just something that seems a little “unfinished” with Rado Vidosic’s version of City, while Glory coach Reuben Zadkovich is making believers out of everyone.
They threw away a win last week against the Jets and the feisty Zadkovich will not have minced words reminding them of it this week. Could be the game of the round.
It was a brave point earned by the Jets in Perth last start, while Victory finally showed a modicum of form, aided by Jake Brimmer’s more attacking role. Newcastle will be well-advised not to concede free kicks around the penalty area with Brimmer in the mood he is.
However, the Novocastrians are unbeaten since January 8th and are starting to show the kind of attacking promise that their pre-season publicity hyped. They’ll be ensuring the VAR is working at the home end too, lest the Victory want to come to town and steal another one.
Hopefully, homesickness isn’t hitting the Phoenix, who next get to tread their own turf in March. They should be used to playing away after their efforts of the Lockdown League seasons and are striking a Macarthur side who were humbled by the runaway leaders in Melbourne last round. Ulises Davila was withdrawn after 55 minutes against Melbourne for reasons not quite certain.
Macarthur’s success rests on his brilliance. The form of Bozhidar Kraev must be a concern for Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay. He has not looked the same since his send off at Sydney, and was hooked at half time last week.
If he recaptures that early season sparkle, and with Mexican striker Oskar Zawada on a goal-scoring tear, there may not be the sound of cowbells from Campbelltown on Sunday.
Brisbane, United, Western Sydney, City, Newcastle, Macarthur
Friday nights at Redcliffe can be magical, and this one will start the weekend off with a bang. Brisbane Roar were terrific in Adelaide last week and were so unfortunate to come away with nothing, and Central Coast Mariners had a similar experience at Allianz Stadium, allowing Sydney FC to steal the points.
We’re teed up for a fast-flowing high-scoring affair here, and once Marco Tulio finds the goal-scoring touch that deserted him last weekend, the Mariners will be motoring at half-time.
Cue a turnaround in fortunes, Brian Kaltack noticeable in his absence as Carlo Armiento and Jay O’Shea have Brisbane in the lead, a Jordan Courtney-Perkins pile driver completing a stunning comeback for the home team.
Western United take on Adelaide United on Saturday afternoon after an unimpressive display at Commbank Stadium last week. Adelaide were fortunate that Nestory Irankunda made up for his woeful pass to win the ball back and power through the score a killer goal, but prior to that they had looked second best.
And second best is where they will be all afternoon here as Western United make light work of the visitors.
The Sydney derby is more about the fans than the players and that was evident from both sets of supporters following their respective victories on the weekend.
The two teams should be nowhere near each other in the table, but only four points separates them and a win for Sydney FC here would confirm their rise from the ashes of a bin fire of a season. The home team’s defence is key to this one, and they have been excellent all season.
The lack of height up front for Sydney will leave Tomislav Mrcela and Marcelo with little to do aerially and the Sky Blues will rely on their intricate passing to get past the two man-mountains.
However, it will be that abrasive player Ollie Bozanic, a player you’d love to play with but not against, who will be instrumental in the only goal of the game, a devastating through ball for Brandon Borrello.
A late appearance from Milos Ninkovic will stoke up the home crowd even more, and the Wanderers fans will be roaring the loudest at the end as the Sydney fans retreat and run the gauntlet through the back streets of Parramatta to get back to the bright lights of East Sydney.
Against any other team, I’d pick Perth Glory for the win in front of their raucous fans at their home away from home at Macedonia Park. But this is a Melbourne City team purring at the moment, and with goals coming from midfield as well as attack, this could be an away day to remember for the reigning premiers.
Perth will hold their own in a first half of missed chances for both teams, but a poacher’s goal just before the break from top marksman Jamie Maclaren will hand the advantage to the visitors.
A second half of total dominance will follow and Florin Berenguer will smash in a second, before Mathew Leckie tricks his way through the Perth defence and dinks a delightful finish to complete the scoring.
Sunday service for the Newcastle Jets as they take on Melbourne Victory. Victory scored a fabulous win last weekend over Phoenix, while Newcastle kept battling to sneak a point at Perth.
This is the kind of match-up that is so unpredictable coming into the game, but once the game starts, you hang your head in shame as one of the teams takes complete control. That team will be Newcastle.
Their hot and cold season continues, but they will step up their search for a top-six finish with a breath-taking display of fast running football, sprinkled with the unplayable genius that is Daniel Stynes.
Once Matthew Bozinovski is dispossessed by Reno Piscopo for the opening goal, the floodgates will open, Stynes dancing into the box for the second and Beka Mikeltadze a third before half time.
Where to for Macarthur FC after their mauling last week?
Back to the drawing board, that’s where. The visitors, Wellington Phoenix, were well beaten by basement club Melbourne Victory and the pain will continue today despite a much more spirited performance.
|BRI vs CCM
|WUN vs ADL
|WSW vs SYD
|PER vs MCY
|NEW vs MVC
|MAC vs WEL