Round 20 was a successful week of tipping, with very little splitting the panel. Andrew Prentice was top of the pops, along with one other handsome rooster and the roar of the crowd maintained its narrow lead.
The next six A-League games present a nightmare for tipsters, with crucial and evenly matched contests right across the round. Adelaide and Wellington on Friday night, the Sydney Derby, the Jets against Perth and Brisbane Roar versus Western United all look like potential tosses of the coin.
Good luck with your tips for Round 21 and be sure to enter them in the sheet below to have a say in the voice of the fans. Here is the way the panel see all of the action unfolding across the weekend.
Adelaide, United, Perth, Draw, City, Draw
Adelaide United have scored 16 goals in their last five league encounters, and they had Joe Gauci, Craig Goodwin and train-on squad member Nestory Irankunda called up by the Socceroos in midweek. They’re in a red-hot vein of form and they haven’t lost since a January 7 defeat to the Central Coast Mariners.
What will trouble Carl Veart somewhat is the fact that Wellington Phoenix always seem to cause headaches for his side. And with Wellington on a decent run of form themselves, this game could be a close-run thing.
It’s the fact that the Phoenix never seem to travel well that could count against them here. It’s just too hard to tip against the Reds at their Coopers Stadium fortress – particularly on a Friday night.
So many questions surround Brisbane Roar going into this one. Will lawyer Dale Cliff select his son in the run-on side?
Have The Den already filled in their Brisbane United application forms? Does anyone realise this fixture is on? The Roar got over the halfway line approximately once in their 2-1 defeat to Melbourne City last weekend, and they promptly scored from the penalty spot as a result.
They are a hot mess of a football side if ever there was one, and while Stefan Scepovic looks like a marginal improvement on those who came before him, it’s hard to see where the attacking inspiration comes from. Meanwhile, John Aloisi has been rewarded for a truly dire campaign with a new contract at Western United. Go figure.
Both of these teams are dreadful, but I have a feeling it’ll be the visitors who walk away with all three points in Redcliffe.
Newcastle Jets struggled to keep pace with Adelaide United in a 4-2 defeat last weekend – a result that arguably flattered the Novocastrians. They’d need an inspired run of form and results elsewhere to go their way to sneak into the top six, but it’s hard to see that happening when they don’t even feel like favourites to beat a team like Perth Glory.
Had the Western Australians not been forced to start their campaign on an interminable road trip, they may have given the finals a nudge themselves. Neither side is really mathematically out of the equation just yet, but it’s Glory who go into this encounter in slightly better form. I reckon they can jag a rare away win in the Hunter.
The two Sydney derbies so far have been two of the most entertaining games of the season – if not in quality, then at least in terms of sheer will to win from both sides.
The Sky Blues will fancy their chances of making it back-to-back victories over their bitter rivals, but the trouble is they’ve lacked the quality to really stamp their authority on many games this season. The Wanderers look the better side on paper, but they too have a tendency to go missing when it really counts.
This will invariably be a fiery affair, with two of the more combustible coaches on the sidelines, but it’s hard to pick a clear winner in a match both sides will be desperate to avoid losing.
Macarthur rolled over in their 4-1 defeat to the Central Coast Mariners last time out, conspiring to concede on a regular basis after Daniel De Silva had handed Mile Sterjovski’s side the lead. The Bulls coach ended his playing career at the Mariners, but the conviviality should end there.
Melbourne City crushed the Bulls 6-1 when these two sides met barely five weeks ago, and Rado Vidosic’s team should hammer Macarthur once again when the two sides meet in Campbelltown.
Will the last person left at Melbourne Victory please turn out the lights? In a season to forget, their 2-1 loss to Western United on Monday night was another dismal low.
Tony Popovic’s side dragged themselves back into the contest through a Bruno Fornaroli free-kick and still conspired to throw the game away.
They went down 2-1 to the Mariners when the two sides met in Gosford, and with Popovic’s side having little to play for over the rest of the campaign, it’s hard to see how Nick Montgomery’s visitors don’t head home with all three points, as they look to keep pace with the league’s top two sides.
Adelaide, Western United, Newcastle, Western Sydney, City, Central Coast
The Reds are rolling and the Phoenix are now almost certain top six material.
This should be a Friday night cracker at Hindmarsh. Wellington worried me a little how they sat back and soaked up pressure against Sydney FC last week. Against a better team, they may have leaked a goal.
The Reds to put at least three past the visitors. If anyone thinks I am silly enough to tip the Roar, destined for the spoon as they are, you’d be wrong. Too much at stake for Western United on the road.
Newcastle and Perth could well turn into the match of the round. Certain goals and both team thinking they could still sneak into the finals. Newcastle to win and end the post season aspirations of the Glory. The Sydney Derby will go off on Saturday night.
For the first time in a while, it really means something and Corica v Rudan Round 2 should be interesting. It is hard to tip Sydney; the Wanderers too solid at the back and the rivalry to resume in the finals.
Macarthur needs points urgently and host a Melbourne City team whom they are more than capable of beating when at their best. Rado Vidosic has a great squad, but inconsistency makes them vulnerable. This could be the day for the Bulls, but I’ll stick with the quality up front for City.
Less and less people are turning out to watch Melbourne Victory and for good reason. The Mariners are a much better football team, yet can they get three crucial points on the road in Melbourne? They sure can and the Victory gloom to continue.
Adelaide, United, Newcastle, Western Sydney, City, Central Coast
What a mouth-watering clash this promises to be. The Reds are scoring for fun. Welcome, to the new entertainers…they have lost but once in their last 10 matches, while the Phoenix have only been beaten twice in the same time period, and have won more games than Adelaide in that window. How great it is that Carl Veart can bring a talent like Nestory Irankunda off the bench and rely on him to score and electrify a home crowd.
Oskar Zawada is not doing a bad job on the goal-scoring front for the visitors. He has employed the score stats man all but once in the last 11 rounds. If Craig Goodwin continues the form that saw him make carved lunch meat of his former club in Newcastle last week, the Reds might have enough to dent the Phoenix’s top 2 ambitions.
John Aloisi’s men deserve their own wing in the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Hall of Fame. If they win against the Roar, they may well be in the top six by the end of the round.
As long as Noah Botic keeps those shooting boots well-polished, there’s no reason to think they won’t continue their late-season run towards the play-off spots.
The Roar can’t even average a goal a game and their previously vaunted defence has of late had more holes than a government submarine contract. That doesn’t bode well for positive results.
Perhaps overshadowed by the high-scoring hijinks that proceeded it last round, Perth’s amazing match against Western Sydney got a little overlooked.
But it was a cracking game back at HBF Park where the Glory somehow survived a Wanderers onslaught while playing with 10 men for 88 minutes, and then stole the points right at the end to the delirium of their long-suffering fans.
However, the Perth Achilles heel – travel – is in play this week. Despite their patchy form, visiting the Jets is not a straightforward task, especially if Beka Mikeltadze is in the mood.
Regardless of the result, what the Sydney Derby deserves is a 40,000 plus sell-out at the new SFS on Saturday night. It used to be a fait accompli, and with both sides vying for playoff spots, this is high stakes in Sin City indeed.
Perhaps the A League’s official streaming service could offer an alternative MA rated telecast of the game with the respective coaches miked up, given that last time around they were at each other like hyenas at a barbecue. How the Wanderers didn’t score against Perth last week is a mystery worthy of Agatha.
The Sky Blues fared no better across the Tasman but weren’t as spendthrift in front of goal.
What might have been a straightforward tip has been coloured by Melbourne City’s deepening injury crisis, with Andrew Nabbout and Jamie MacLaren rumoured to be joining Matt Leckie in the stands at Campbelltown. City have not looked impregnable by any means of late but got a result against the Roar last week.
Macarthur found something so interesting in the Glen Willow Field dressing rooms at half time last week that they just stayed there, letting the Mariners paste them; this after scoring first and looking likely to upset the nominal home side’s trip to Mudgee. City still have enough personnel to get the job done, but it might be more bowling-shoe ugly than glass-slipper pretty.
Not even Moomba could motivate the Victory to eponymous deeds last week. Their season has never recovered from “Sandbucketgate” and they are looking more like a side eyeing off a winter break than ever.
But coach Tony Popovic has a habit of motivating at unlikely junctures so while the play-offs are all but beyond them, every few weeks they seem to remember their pedigree, as positive results against the current top two attest.
Mariners coach Nick Montgomery was missing virtually an entire starting backline last week so his solution was to just score more. Jason Cummings mini-drought ended and Marco Tulio conducted the Mariners orchestra like a virtuoso. If this is a sign that those two players are back to their best, it’ll be a long day for the hosts.
Adelaide, United, Newcastle, Western Sydney, City, Central Coast
I tend to tip against both Adelaide and Wellington on a regular basis, so I’m going to have to pick one of them tonight.
Their results of late have contributed to my slide down the tipping ladder. After Adelaide backed up their 4-2 win against the reigning premiers with another on the road, you’d be mad not to back them this Friday night under lights at Coopers Stadium.
The Phoenix were battered by Sydney FC in Auckland, but held on to their slender lead, and in Yan Sasse, they have a player on song and in form.
A tight opening half will make way for more goals from Adelaide, and if Hiroshi Ibusuki is back, he might struggle to get a game.
A Jay Barnett goal will pop the cork and two other goals will follow as United finish strongly.
Brisbane Roar at Redcliffe is a tough one to bet against, but Western United come to Queensland with the best form in the A-League, just in time to rescue their season and push for a finals spot.
The home team have constructed a very exciting midfield though, and they will benefit from the barracking of their home fans. It will be a story of the subs that turns the game in Western’s favour, the exciting Jez Lofthouse and Henry Hore coming off for Roar just as Alessandro Diamanti and Dylan Pierias come on for United.
Man mountain Tongo Doumbia will be the scorer, rifling home after some pinball from a corner and Roar will meekly surrender a very winnable game.
How on earth did Perth Glory win last weekend against the Wanderers? It was truly one of those games where the script seemed to be pre-written, and they lived a charmed life for 80 minutes before springing a surprise goal to win it.
Their form away from Western Australia has been woeful, but what a time to be playing Newcastle Jets, a team on a big slump and only one point ahead of them.
Glory will play like a team reborn in the first half, Ryan Williams picking up where he left off and Adam Taggart keen to score against his old club.
It will all go wrong though when Manabu Saito scores a dramatic solo goal just before the break, and Brandon O’Neill will score a second from long range just after half-time to see Jets coasting to victory.
Predicting the result of a Sydney Derby is so difficult; it’s one a-piece so far this season, and Wanderers could have scored a hatful against Glory last week.
Sydney FC also could have scored on several occasions in Auckland; a goals fest is what we’ll have here. The Sky Blues, roared on by a fantastic crowd, will be ahead very early through Robert Mak.
The purring engine of the Western Sydney midfield will then move through the gears to overwhelm their rivals, old boy Calem Nieuwenhof and new Socceroos striker Brandon Borrelo with two goals to have the visitors in the lead at the break.
Cue the 67th minute sub that Steve Corica always makes, Marko Rudan choosing that minute to bring on chief villain Milos Ninkovic, who slays the static Sydney defence with killer through balls and sublime skills, the score line blowing out to four at the end.
Macarthur FC are broken. A season that started with so much promise has crumbled into a mess, despite them boasting some exciting players in Daniel Arzani and Daniel De Silva.
A home game against premiers Melbourne City is the last thing they need after their battering in Mudgee, and this Sunday afternoon fixture will be a total disaster from start to finish.
Once the Bulls concede weakly from a City corner against the run of play, a gradual shift in dominance will see the devastating City attack run riot.
Three goals up on the hour, Florin Berenguer and Valon Berisha will pull the strings in a masterclass in the second half.
Melbourne Victory aren’t that bad, you know. An injection of belief is what they need, but that’s exactly what they’re missing.
On the other hand, Central Coast Mariners seem to have ridden a lean spell to come back to their best, and they will be expecting to turn on the style in this classic A-League fixture.
Expect to see fireworks, many yellows turning red as the game progresses, as these two clubs slug it out for three vital points for very different reasons.
Once Jason Cummings steals the ball from Paul Izzo to notch a messy opening goal within five minutes of the restart, the anger and vitriol from the home team will boil over, and a cool and calm Mariners will go on to score two more without reply as Victory stew in the carcass of their pitiful season and lose yet again.
|ADL vs WEL
|BRI vs WUN
|NEW vs PER
|SYD vs WSW
|MAC vs MCY
|MVC vs CCM