Seriously, this thing called A-League tipping has become something of a farce. How on earth can anyone predict anything confidently at all?
Mike Tuckerman and Texi Smith scrapped their way the three correct selections in Round 24 and both should be applauded, considering the tricky nature of the task undertaken. With only Melbourne Victory and Macarthur FC now mathematically out of contention for the finals, Round 25 looms as an absolute bottler.
Wellington Phoenix and Sydney FC can pretty much sure up finals’ spots with wins, the Jets can keep the home fires burning with three points against the Mariners in the F3 Derby and Western United, Perth and Brisbane have everything to play for and plenty of results needing to go their way.
What a climax to the season. Good luck with your tips for the round and be sure to enter them in the sheet below to have a say in the ladder leading roar of the crowd. Here is the way the panel sees all the Round 25 action unfolding.
Western Sydney, Newcastle, United, Draw, Adelaide, Draw
Western Sydney Wanderers took full advantage of Roderick Miranda’s dismissal last weekend to record a hard-fought 2-1 win over Melbourne Victory. They’ll hope there’s a big crowd in attendance for this Friday night showdown, with the Wanderers hoping to maintain their chance of claiming a top two finish going into the final round.
The Phoenix should have beaten Brisbane Roar last weekend, but had to settle for a 2-2 draw. They may come away from Parramatta empty handed.
The Newcastle Jets are not done yet. Their season looked over until Brandon O’Neill pulled out an absolute howitzer in stoppage time as the Jets claimed an improbable 2-1 win over Macarthur.
The only way fate remains in their hands is if they keep winning, and while goal difference is against them, they’ll go into this clash with their local rivals with nothing to fear.
The Mariners are undoubtedly the better side on paper, but the Novocastrians have too much to play for here.
Western United are still not out of the finals race entirely, after their surprise 1-0 win over Adelaide at Coopers Stadium last Sunday dragged them up to eighth. They’ll need results elsewhere to go their way to have any chance of sneaking into the top six, but they won’t necessarily fear a clash with newly-crowned premiers Melbourne City at AAMI Park.
John Aloisi’s side stunned City in last year’s grand final and they’re likely to do the same thing once again in this one.
It’s 12th versus 11th when Melbourne Victory host Macarthur. Victory are aiming to avoid their second wooden spoon, but Tony Popovic’s side haven’t shown much by the way of fight this season.
Macarthur saw their hopes of sneaking into the top six dealt a near-fatal blow when they conceded a stoppage-time winner to the Jets last weekend. Can they pick themselves up off the canvas? It’s hard to see a clear winner here.
Perth Glory’s campaign looks done and dusted after Ruben Zadkovich’s side were blown away in the second half of their 4-1 loss to Sydney FC last time out. Glory were hampered from the get-go by a fixture list that saw them play most of the start of the season away from home.
While they’ll be relieved to be finally back at HBF Park, it’s probably not going to help them much now. Adelaide suffered a shock home defeat last week, but they should have the quality to prevail here.
Brisbane Roar have been more or less out of the race for a finals position for a while now, even if they fought hard to register a 2-2 draw with Wellington Phoenix in Auckland last weekend.
They gave their long-suffering fans something to cheer about with the announcement of a move back to Brisbane during the week, and they’ll invariably fire up for this ANZAC Eve clash with the hated Sky Blues. Sydney FC boast decidedly more quality, but they’ll have to settle for a point at Suncorp Stadium.
Western Sydney, Central Coast, United, Draw, Perth, Brisbane
Goodness me! This is simply the most incredible A-League season of all. Surely the Wanderers knock of the Phoenix and compel the Kiwis to a stressful final weekend of play? A good old-fashioned F3 derby to whet our appetites on Saturday will see the Mariners end the hopes of the Jets for the season. It could be a spicy affair, but Nick Montgomery’s men are up for the fight in 2023.
Will City field a full team across the final two rounds? Probably, but Western United have far more to play for and could well get the points on Saturday night. Melbourne Victory and Macarthur FC will play out a meaningless match on Sunday night and I’ll pick a draw, simply because I’ve not picked one all season.
Perth’s season will be kept alive with a win against the Reds, who are a far better team at home and Brisbane will beat Sydney FC on Monday to simply turn the final weekend of play into a nightmare for tipsters and a headache for supporters of the teams remaining in the hunt.
Western Sydney, Draw, Draw, Draw, Perth, Sydney
Wanderers will look to continue their run towards the finals and will have an eye on second position. Off-field distractions are coming at the wrong time for Wellington, who could still drop out of the top six.
A typical F3 Derby makes it hard to pick this one, the indifferent form of both of these sides has me firmly on the fence. Western United have one last tilt at finals and Melbourne City could take their foot off the gas after wrapping up the premiership last week. I’m seeing a draw.
In the battle of the cellar dwellers, and two teams that probably don’t deserve to be involved in the finals, the Victory and Bulls are also likely to play out a clunky draw. Perth’s season could rest on results this weekend, though Adelaide will have their eye firmly on securing second place. Perth to do just enough at home to keep their season alive for another week.
Sydney will be buoyed by last week’s result against Perth. They should take some good momentum into this one against the Roar, get the win and the important three points to secure their spot in the six.
Western Sydney, Central Coast, City, Macarthur, Adelaide, Sydney
Don’t take my word for it, my predictions have fallen off a cliff, but it’s almost an away-day sweep this week.
The Wanderers have hit form at the right time, while the Phoenix have hit the wrong kind of form at the right time for the Wanderers. Does that make sense? Brandon Borrello is in career-best form and his movement and incision is going to make life hard for a Wellington defence that has looked as secure as a tent in a cyclone of late.
I hope the Newcastle faithful come out for this one because these games are invariably great. The Mariners are averaging two goals a game and their superior goal difference over Adelaide means a Reds slip-up could be a passage into the top two for the “little club that could.”
I’m going to get hit by the Mike Tuckerman curse, as I originally picked Western United to win the “other” Melbourne derby this week, reasoning that City might rest players in the wake of securing the Premiers Plate.
But they’ve got lots of potential rest time and momentum is a lovely thing heading into the finals. City won’t have forgotten Western’s smash-and-grab grand final win last season and would probably like nothing better than to nail the coffin lid on Western’s title defence this week.
Melbourne Victory’s miserable season is almost over. Any remote finals aspirations were extinguished last week. The expectations for Macarthur may not have been as high as their opponents, but their season too has floundered, despite the change of coaches mid-stream.
The loss of Ulises Davila to injury has been a hard chasm to bridge but Victory may not have a lot of interest this Sunday afternoon, apart from wanting to avoid the wooden spoon. A loss here won’t confirm that unwanted prize, with Perth and Brisbane still in reach and playing later in the round.
Adelaide were shocked by Western United last week and are probably still stinging from the unlikely loss, after looking red-hot (pardon the pun) for the last two months. Perth’s thumping at the SFS has meant a real lot has to happen outside of their control if they are to sneak a finals berth.
The mid-season Glory sizzle might just be ready to fizzle on Sunday afternoon. It’s a rare thing for Adelaide not to score two weeks in a row, and while Perth know their way to goal, the Reds have attacking weapons everywhere you care to look.
The Roar have fared well against Sydney in recent times. If they beat the Sky Blues on Monday, they’ll only be two points outside the top six. Lose, and they may sink to one point off the bottom of the table. That’s how crazy this season has been and why most of the members of this tipping panel will be hitting Stuart Thomas up for therapy fee compensation when it’s all over.
Sydney have their preferred front three on the park again and they looked the goods against Perth last week. Joe Lolley, Adam Le Fondre and Robert Mak will test Brisbane’s defence, which is the third-best in the league, despite their ninth placing. The Sky Blues should prevail on Anzac Day eve.
Wellington, Newcastle, United, Victory, Adelaide, Brisbane
Now that the Western Sydney Wanderers have confirmed their top six finish, they can set about securing a home semi-final or really damage Sydney FC’s hopes of making the top six. Wanderers weren’t quite purring last week against the unlucky Melbourne Victory, but will be looking to continue to enhance their pedigree against a faltering Wellington Phoenix.
The visitors are on a wretched run, and in danger of undoing all the good work at the very end. But this is the A-League and we know that anything can happen. It will. Oskar Zawada will poke home the only goal of the game.
Win or bust for Newcastle Jets in the F3 Derby. Their woeful goal difference has come back to bite them. They’re not out of the race just yet, but there will need to be something special in the final two weeks.
The home team were fortunate to take all three points against Macarthur last week, and thanks to a late thunderbolt from Brandon O’Neill, they teed up this game perfectly. The Mariners showed a lot of fight to come away with a draw at home to the premiers, but that fight will be strangely absent this week.
You all laughed when I tipped Western United last week. Who’s laughing now? The reward for that win in Adelaide is a home game against premiers City, who now have absolutely nothing to prove.
This is where the A-League gets super interesting. What sort of team will City roll out for the last two games of the season? Will they keep the momentum going? One thing is for sure, they will play with total abandon and it could be quite hair-raising for their opponents.
Tonight though, the stakes are high for Western United. They need the points to keep the dream alive. Dylan Pierias is in sparkling form and it will be his powerful wing play that unlocks the City defence, Ben Garrucio at the far post to volley home just before the break. City will draw level, but a late winner from Aleksandar Prijovic will give Western United a lifeline for the top six.
The battle of the basement is here. This is the biggest six-pointer of the season, bottom club Melbourne Victory against surprise second-from-bottom Macarthur, whose plummet down the table is almost complete.
Victory’s defence will be missing Roderick Miranda after his unfortunate sending off last weekend, but they will be concentrating on attack. Fernando Romero will score two early goals. From there onwards, Victory will grow into a majestic performance, the Bulls making them look like world-beaters.
Perth Glory take on Adelaide United, who are absolutely smarting after their loss at home to Western United spoiled a glorious evening last week. Beware the smited, for they shall rise.
Glory were taken apart by Sydney FC, but are such an outside chance to make the top six that they may already be thinking of the post-season and what changes they are going to make to shake things up. Adelaide should finish second, but they will need to navigate this tricky encounter first.
A stunning three-goal, second-half come-back will see Adelaide maintain second spot in the league with a handsome win.
Brisbane have everything to play for, and they can be key to making this the most exciting run-in for sixth spot on record. The exciting Jez Lofthouse and Henry Hore give Brisbane such an edge, and with Jay O’Shea in the goal scoring form of his life, the Sky Blues will be put in first-half trouble.
Nikola Mileusnic will then step off the bench to break Sydney hearts as they pour forward, a goal difference-altering goal that confirms the three points and sets up an incredible final round next week. Oh my, the A-League, how good is it?
|WSW vs WEL
|NEW vs CCM
|WUN vs MCY
|MVC vs MAC
|PER vs ADL
|BRI vs SYD