Round 17 was a nightmare for A-League tipsters, with three draws and a shock or two making things near impossible to predict. As such, two correct selections was the best the panel or the roar of the crowd could do and all and sundry will be looking to bounce back with a better performance this weekend.
Central Coast versus Wellington looks the game of the Round, with Sydney FC out to continue the patchy run of Melbourne City on Saturday night. There will be plenty of spice when the Victory host the Reds and the Jets and Glory have chances to firm their claims on top six spots.
Good luck with your tips for the round and be sure to enter them in the sheet below to have a say as the now vulnerable roar of the crowd.
Here are the thoughts of the panel on what looks another tricky week of tipping.
Central Coast, Draw, Newcastle, Western Sydney, Draw, Brisbane
The Mariners recorded their first win in four with that 2-1 victory over Brisbane Roar in Redcliffe last time out, and they’ll hope to continue that momentum as they push for a top-two finish. They face a tricky opponent in Ufuk Talay’s hot-and-cold Wellington Phoenix, although surely the fact the that Kiwis are notoriously poor travellers counts in Central Coast’s favour here. With Jason Cummings in red-hot goal-scoring form, you’d have to back the home team in this one.
Melbourne City came off second best in a bruising Melbourne Derby last weekend, and they won’t necessarily relish the visit of a Sydney FC team capable of packing a punch. Things have looked decidedly less watertight at the back ever since Rado Vidosic took charge, with Tom Glover not exactly the most awe-inspiring of shot-stoppers in goal. The Sky Blues needed a stoppage-time equaliser to jag a point against Brisbane Roar, and this game is also likely to finish all square at AAMI Park.
Just when you thought it was safe to write off Newcastle’s finals chances, they go ahead and string together a run of six unbeaten games. They’re hot on the heels of the top six following that impressive run of form and they won’t fear a visit from the defending champions. Western United have taken just a solitary point from their last four fixtures and go into this game on the back of three straight defeats. They’re good enough to turn the tide, but not against the in-form Novocastrians.
Western Sydney Wanderers go into this fixture fourth in the standings, despite having won just six games all season. They’ve drawn more games than any other opponent and Marko Rudan won’t have been thrilled with his side’s defending in that 4-4 draw with Adelaide United last weekend. Macarthur should, by rights, be one of Western Sydney’s major rivals. They just can’t seem to string a sequence of results together, and it’s hard to see them taking anything from this clash.
Are Melbourne Victory back? They celebrated their derby win last weekend like they’d just won the league, and coach Tony Popovic will be delighted to have seen veteran striker Bruno Fornaroli get on the scoresheet. The question is whether Victory have the quality to match it with a battle-hardened Adelaide United. The Reds have lost some key players throughout the campaign, yet still seem to hang around every week. They’re unbeaten in their last six and should be good enough for a point.
Where to now for the beleaguered Brisbane Roar? Nick Green is the new man in the hot seat after Warren Moon’s dismissal – for now, at any rate – but he still has the same problems his predecessor faced. The Roar look marginally improved with Stefan Scepovic leading the line, but they’ve largely been short on quality throughout the campaign. Perth Glory’s problem is the fact that they look world-beaters at home and like a pub team away. They’re likely to leave Redcliffe empty-handed.
Central Coast, Sydney, Newcastle, Western Sydney, Victory, Brisbane
I’ll keep them short and sweet this week, as frankly, this is an absolute crapshoot. The Phoenix looked good against questionable opposition last time out and the Mariners woke up after a slow start against Perth Glory. Who wins this is anybody’s guess, yet home field advantage might just get Central Coast the points and keep them breathing down the neck of the ladder leaders.
Melbourne City will host Sydney on Saturday afternoon and logic says they win, whilst current form suggests they might struggle. What the heck, Sydney FC with the upset. The Jets are still a little way off playing the ‘sexy football’ promised, yet there are elements of it there and Western United look a spent force. Newcastle into the six and a top four finish on the cards for the men from the Hunter.
Sydney’s battle of the west sees the Wanderers host Macarthur in what should be another guess for most tipsters. Macarthur are yet to convince on a consistent basis and a Wanderer win does seem the most likely outcome. Can Victory double up on wins and seriously threaten a few above them? I think they can at home and the Reds haven’t really beaten anyone of quality for some time, so let’s launch Tony Popovic’s team into finals contention with a win.
Perth are away from home and will struggle with the surroundings after such an extended run at Macedonia Park. As awful as Brisbane are, the new coach bounce back is certainly on the cards and I’m seeing a local win to keep the Roar in the finals race.
Draw, City, Draw, Western Sydney, Draw, Brisbane
Yet another away game for Wellington. Hard one to pick so I’m on the fence and it looks like the points could well be shared in this one. Melbourne City will still be seething after their loss last week to Victory. Sydney have hit a rich vein of form but they won’t be good enough to beat a rampaging City.
It is a huge weekend for the Jets, with a chance to continue their unbeaten run and move into the top six. They’ve hit some good form in recent weeks but this one will all depend on which Western United side shows up. Looks like a draw to me. The Wanderers have the chance to bury their cousins up the road. This current Macarthur side is nowhere near the one we saw win the Cup Final. Western Sydney should have this one in hand.
Have Victory turned around their season after last week’s derby win? I’m yet to be convinced and can see the Reds snatching a point on the road. Brisbane vs Perth is a must win for both sides if they want to keep up the chase for the top six. A new coach for Brisbane will give them a boost as players look to impress. A home win in this one.
Central Coast, City, Newcastle, Western Sydney, Adelaide, Perth
A quick caveat for those reading; if you’re going by my predictions, do as I suggested a couple of weeks ago and tip the opposite, a la George Costanza.
Right, with that out of the way, here’s a match between two of the most entertaining teams in the league. The Mariners will feel that the three points escaped them in Perth last week, despite coming back from 0-2 down. Wellington buried Western United and subsequent results consigned last season’s champions to the foot of the table. The Phoenix are at the end of a one month road trip and the last time they played in Wellington, they beat the Mariners. Despite the return to form of Bohzidar Kraev and Oskar Zawada’s continued scoring vein, the Mariners in Gosford on a Friday night is a tough order.
It’s hard to imagine City falling to consecutive losses, but then again it was harder imagining them losing to the Victory last week. Sydney got frustrated by Brisbane’s rediscovered defensive steel. City have now scored 6 goals without needing Jamie Maclaren to post his name on the scoresheet. He and the rest of the City attack will be hard for the FC defence to repel, and with them likely to be without Adam Le Fondre at the other end of the park, City should be too strong.
Two sides waving to each other as they move in opposite ladder directions. Trent Buhagier scored in the 8th minute last week but it took another 230 minutes for that to be the winning goal in a bizarre clash in Campbelltown. Hopefully, the Jets get to settle this one in about 90, give or take, because I’m not sure Western United have 4 hours of waiting time in them. Maybe new signing Michael Ruhs is in line for a start, and might invoke a bit of F3 derby passion from his recent Mariners days to help the Western cause. But it’s a big ask.
The Wanderers played their part in one of the games of the season last week, finding a late equaliser against Adelaide despite being reduced to ten players. Brandon Borrello is just about the A League’s hottest commodity right now. Every time he touches the ball, opposition defences head for therapy couches. The Wanderers often back up a week of generous defence with one of scrooginess (that word probably doesn’t exist) so the Bulls might not find the red and blacks in a giving mood.
Last week’s surprise win by the Victory lifted them off the bottom of the table and had people talking about a late season charge into the play-offs. Let’s take a chill pill there, folks. Victory’s form is still a patchwork quilt of odd threads and loose ends. Adelaide will be kicking themselves (rather than the opposition) at letting all three points slip against the Wanderers last week but were gratified by the return to form of Hiroshi Ibusuki (who I sacked from my fantasy team just as he found the net again. Seriously, why do I do this…?). If Ibusuki carries that form to AAMI Park on a warm Sunday afternoon, Victory’s revival may be a bit Jimmy Swaggart-like.
While a lot has been made of Perth’s resurgence and embracing of their temporary home at Macedonia Park, they haven’t won in a month. Brisbane are in worse form; their last win came all the way back in Round 11. The Roar kept Sydney FC at bay for more than 80 minutes last week but, as for so much of this season, the way to the opposition goal is something of a labyrinth for them. Not scoring against the Glory will probably end in tears.
Central Coast, City, Newcastle, Western Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane
The Mariners were lucky to have VAR on their side last week, coming from two down with two very soft penalties in Perth, while today’s visitors were so dominant in Launceston against Western United, that it could and should have been an even more comprehensive victory. With Jason Cummings at his mischievous best, it will be a comfortable win for the home team in balmy conditions at Central Coast Stadium.
Saturday early evening sees Melbourne City take on Sydney FC at AAMI Park, with both teams coming off poor results. The Big Sky Blue will be a definite gauge as to whether City can go on to retain their premiership crown, and to do that, they need to brush aside the unpredictable nuisance team that is Sydney FC, a team that has the uncanny knack of pulling a result out of nowhere. Today will not be one of those days, although they will give it a good crack.
Newcastle Jets will be ready to turn on the style against a Western United team bereft of ideas and heading towards the wooden spoon. There was always hope in Tasmania when they were only a one goal down, but the way they were demolished by Wellington Phoenix was worrying for fans, players and coach John Aloisi. Three defeats on the spin, and with the home team on a good sequence of results; only a league such as the A-League Men could throw up anything other than a home win.
Western Sydney Wanderers take on Macarthur FC on Saturday night hoping for a repeat of the thumping handed out earlier in the year. The signs are there for a return to form, and after their remarkable draw in Adelaide last weekend, coupled with Macarthur’s poor showing against the Jets in wild weather on Saturday, this could be another tough day at Commbank Stadium for the Bulls.
What a time to be alive! Melbourne Victory off the bottom of the ladder with a superb derby win and facing Adelaide United off the back of an eight-goal thriller, this is the ultimate test of an A-League tipster’s nerve. Which Victory will we see today? The scrappy, unkempt gaggle of individuals, or the exciting attacking team full of promise and excitement? I’ll tell you. We’re going to get thrills and spills in this traditional grudge match, and when Victory run out of ideas and options after pummelling the Adelaide goal without result, Panashe “Shandy” Madanha will come off the bench and prove the difference.
|CCM vs WEL
|MCY vs SYD
|NEW vs WUN
|WSW vs MAC
|MVC vs ADL
|BRI vs PER