Tipping five out of six A-League matches correctly in Round 16 was a superhuman effort, yet I managed it and have now moved to within a point of the ladder leader. Backing up that result looks near impossible this round, with Western and Wellington a tough one to call, Perth at home to Central Coast and the Wanderers on the road to Adelaide in a match with serious implications for the top six.
Good luck with your tips for the weekend and be sure to enter them in the sheet below to have a say in the voice of the crowd.
Here are the thoughts of the panel and how they see all the action unfolding in Round 17.
United, draw, Sydney, Macarthur, City, Adelaide.
Western United are used to playing in front of no fans, so the trip to UTAS Stadium in Launceston won’t faze them. The defending champs have been the most disappointing team in the league, and they will be kicking themselves for the manner of their most recent defeat to Adelaide. Wellington are in the midst of a four-game road trip and can’t afford to continue dropping points. Neither side are in the best of form, but I’m backing the nominal hosts to get the biscuits.
Perth Glory have got Macedonia Park rocking and almost pulled off a memorable result against Melbourne City last weekend. They come up against a Mariners side that has been one of the surprise packages of the season, and both of these teams will be desperate for three points. Glory have made things decidedly uncomfortable for visiting outfits this season and they’ll once again enjoy the parochial backing of their home fans. It’s hard to split the two teams in what should be a fairly even contest.
Sydney FC may have downed crosstown rivals Western Sydney in the derby last week, but they rode their luck at times. They’re a bit of a mishmash in attack, and they’ll miss the presence of Adam Le Fondre through injury here. Fortunately for Sky Blues fans, Brisbane Roar look a million miles away from an A-League-quality side. They need Marcel Canadi and Stefan Scepovic to get up to speed quickly, but even if they do, it’s hard to see how this game ends in anything but a home victory.
Macarthur came from behind to beat Wellington in a strange encounter last Sunday, but the real issue continues to be the fact the Bulls have so few fans. There’s a genuine lack of atmosphere in Campbelltown, and that’s unlikely to change here. The Jets enjoyed a confidence-boosting win over Melbourne Victory last weekend, but they’re a real rocks-and-diamonds kind of side. If the going gets tough in Sydney’s south-west, I expect the Bulls to grind out a result in front of their tiny band of supporters.
Melbourne Victory fans will be relieved the form guide goes out the window for derbies because the truth is they’re currently approaching Jim Magilton levels of form. They’ve been garbage all season under Tony Popovic and the only way they’ll win here is on pure emotion. Unfortunately for Victory fans, Melbourne City are in red-hot form. They were pushed all the way by Perth Glory last weekend and still cruised to victory. It’s impossible to tip against Rado Vidosic’s team in the derby.
Adelaide United continue to dig in under Carl Veart and Coopers Stadium remains something of a fortress for the Reds. The South Australians have a knack for hanging around in games, and they won’t fear the visit of the Wanderers. Western Sydney were slightly unlucky not to jag a point from the derby last weekend, but they’re hardly the most free-flowing side in attack. They do have some attacking weapons up their sleeve – including former Reds striker Kusini Yengi – but if this one gets into a grind, I suspect it’s Adelaide who’ll come out on top.
United, Perth, Sydney, Newcastle, City, Adelaide
It was another disappointment for John Aloisi’s men last Saturday, with three points tossed away to the Reds. Wellington also lost, and this is a big clash for both sides attempting to wriggle their way into the bottom of the top six by season’s end. I threw a dart at a board, and Western United it is!
Perth are back at home and up against the second-placed Mariners. The home side needs to keep winning, with the top six still realistic, yet Central Coast keep producing the goods when required. The home side in what could be a high-scoring and wild affair.
Sydney FC have slowly rebuilt their season with a couple of recent wins and will belt the Roar on Saturday in what looks like a tipping lock for the weekend. Macarthur claimed a big three points against the Phoenix last Sunday and Newcastle took out Victory – both teams will be eyeing a spot in the six with a win and the Jets should win what also looks like a mighty close one to call.
Anyone tipping Victory to win the Melbourne derby on Saturday night is a goose – or a genius if it does indeed happen. City are on their way towards another season of silverware and Victory look like they’re on their last legs.
Sunday afternoon’s fixture between the Reds and the Wanderers could well be the match of the round. Western Sydney were seething after being the better team in the derby last weekend and the Reds threw points away on the road. This will explode – a goal fest and an Adelaide win in front of a big crowd at Hindmarsh.
Wellington, Perth, Sydney, draw, City, draw
It is a terrible run of away games for Wellington, but this is the game they bounce back in, and United will look close to out of the running. Perth will look to rebound and can take some positives out of last week. They should be good for a win against a strong Mariners team, with the home fans riding them home.
Sydney FC have finally hit some form. They should get the points back at home against Brisbane and, believe it or not, Newcastle are now unbeaten in five matches. However, they’ll only be good enough for a draw here.
Probably one of the most anticipated Melbourne derbies in some time will be played on Saturday night, considering the plight of the older brother. Victory have hit some form but will fall short against a rampant City.
The Wanderers have a decent record in Adelaide, which makes this one hard to pick. I’d say the points will be shared at Hindmarsh.
Wellington, Central Coast, Sydney, draw, City, Adelaide
Both these clubs let leads slip last week, but Western United were the worst offenders, conceding three goals in 18 minutes against Adelaide to squander a 2-0 lead at home – well, at one of their squatters-rights venues. Wellington were cruelled by two old boys against Macarthur. Ulises Davila scored for the Bulls to level the game and then Filip Kurto saved two penalties in three minutes to keep it that way at the end of the first half. This week Western take their caravan to Tasmania again, where the Phoenix will at least feel longitudinally at home. The champions’ season has reached the quicksand-is-up-to-my-neck stage, and one wonders if they’ll be sunk by Friday night.
It took City four goals and a red card to finally burst the Macedonia Park bubble last week, but Glory were far from disgraced. The absence of suspended Darryl Lachman will leave a sizable hole in the centre of Perth’s defence, but they are now scoring goals for fun at the other end of the park. The Mariners like to attack too, and this shapes as the game of the round if both sides decide to go the full-tilt boogie at each other. Worth staying up late for on the east coast!
There’s a famous episode of the outrageous 80s TV show The Young Ones where the four protagonists crash straight through a Cliff Richard billboard and over a cliff. The Roar are on that bus at the moment. They’ve won only once in the last nine games, have lost their last three and are the lowest scorers in the league, with a paltry 12 in 16 games. Not the best time to face a Sydney FC side fresh off a derby win.
Okay folks, first in with the buzzer wins. How long has it been since the Jets lost? Six rounds, you say? Excellent! In this league, that’s tantamount to an Invincibles run. And who was the last side to shoot down the Jets? Macarthur, you say? Ah, you win the fast money. The Bulls are an enigma, looking like a pub team one week by getting thrashed 6-1 by Melbourne City, then showing a degree of fortitude in beating the Phoenix last week. It’s hard to know which Bulls team turns up.
Melbourne City have gorged themselves on ten goals in their last two games and look like an uncontainable attacking threat. Victory fell back into bad habits against the Jets and their season has lurched from one crisis to another. Still, this is the game they really get up for, but I’m just not sure they’ll have the flare – sorry, the flair – to match their closest rivals.
It could be a hot Hindmarsh for a 3pm kick-off. Adelaide have hit form and are unbeaten since a rather blunt 4-0 wake-up call in Gosford six weeks ago. They came home like a steam train against the champions last week. Meanwhile, Western Sydney deserved all three points and a million-dollar bonus against Sydney FC last round – just ask them. Adelaide have a great home record – only the Jets have come away from there with a win this season – and the Wanderers continue to struggle with consistency in front of goal.
United, Perth, Sydney, Macarthur, Victory, Western Sydney
Tasmania welcomes Western United. A two-goal lead wiped out in a second-half collapse at home against Adelaide last week tells you all you need to know about Western’s season so far. This time they’re up against Wellington Phoenix, who didn’t take the gifts from Macarthur last week and paid the price in their own demise after taking the lead. The most obscure of home venues, UTAS Stadium in Launceston, welcomes top-tier football to a state that is crying out for a top-tier club. The fans will be right behind Western United, and with the increased firepower since the arrival of Michael Ruhs, they will make sure they’re well out of sight before conceding any goals.
Sydney FC have found form from absolutely nowhere, with two away wins against their fiercest rivals and a home success against their near-neighbours from up the coast. Brisbane’s early season promise has gone right out of the window, and if they are to stand any chance, Jay O’Shea and Henry Hore need to be firing on all cylinders. With the cork popped, the Cove will be treated to some champagne football, coach Steve Corica punching the air as the goals rain in, right in front of their adoring fans.
If you’re not at Allianz Stadium to see Sydney FC, you could be at Campbelltown to follow the fortunes of Macarthur FC. The home team somehow came up with a win against Wellington Phoenix, the Kiwis profligate with their penalties, and it was with relief that the Bulls secured the win. With Newcastle Jets in town and Daniel Stynes recalled to the starting line-up alongside the double Bekas, Macarthur will be behind early yet rally late for a comeback win to keep their season rolling.
Victoria’s sole match this weekend is the Melbourne derby between Victory and City in the prime time slot of Saturday night. Victory were picked apart in Newcastle last week, while City came away from Macedonia Park with the points to derail Perth Glory’s mini-revival. City seem unstoppable, with their rich attacking options delivering goals galore. However, Bruno Fornaroli will round off the scoring in a 3-0 home win for the lowly Victory. You heard it here first.
Perth Glory losing at their new fortress to Melbourne City was the reality check that had to happen, and this is a pivotal game in a season that could go either way. In Ryan Williams and Keegan Jelacic they have two players who can change the complexion of any game, and Central Coast Mariners will struggle to contain them at the cauldron. The high-flying Mariners will be full of verve after last week’s win in Redcliffe, but it will all come tumbling down in the twilight zone of Macedonia Park.
Adelaide United came back magnificently last week, but that papered over the cracks exposed in the first half. Western Sydney Wanderers were blunt in attack in the Sydney derby and couldn’t find an equaliser despite dominating with ten men. Nicolas Milanovic will run riot today, with Brandon Borrello moving to his more effective midfield role, and Milos Ninkovic will roll back the years to give Wanderers a shot in the arm as the league table starts to sort itself out.
|WUN vs WEL
|PER vs CCM
|SYD vs BRI
|MAC vs NEW
|MVC vs MCY
|ADL vs WSW