Andrew Prentice holds a slender lead in the tipping after what was a cracking weekend of A-League fixtures in Round 5.
The round to follow looks set to match it and begins with a blockbuster on Friday night when the Roar take on the Wanderers in front of a revitalised Brisbane crowd. Sydney mysteriously occupy the Saturday night prime-time slot against Perth, with Western United and Wellington doing battle in the twilight a few hours earlier.
The Mariners at home against Victory is a massive encounter, the Jets can seriously derail Melbourne City’s start to the season with a win in the Hunter and Macarthur host Adelaide on Monday night in what could well prove to be the match of the round.
Good luck with your tips and be sure to enter them in the sheet below to have a say in the roar of the crowd. Here is the way the panel sees all the action playing out across the weekend, with significant ladder movement certain come the completion of the six matches.
Western Sydney, Wellington, Sydney, Victory, City, Adelaide
The ropey surface and cavernous surrounds of Suncorp Stadium again host Queensland’s number one club side as they take on high-flying Western Sydney Wanderers. This has entertainment written all over it, especially if Marko Rudan taps into the afterglow of the Sydney derby victory.
The visitors’ right-hand side will be lethal, Dylan Pierias enhancing his reputation with a performance of note, and it will be his creativity that stuns the home side, Wanderers going in 2-0 up at the break despite the absence of Brandon Borrello.
The troublesome Florin Berenguer will have the ball in the net within a minute in the second half, both keepers earning the plaudits and Wanderers hanging on for the points in this Friday night spectacular.
Western United scored a goal last weekend; that’s a start. They’re back to Ballarat, which is proving to be a very unhappy hunting ground and they entertain Wellington Phoenix, who were superb in Auckland last weekend when they beat reigning premiers Melbourne City.
We might have to wait a little while to see Daniel Penha destroy a defence with his dazzling skills, but it will be a slick performance from the visitors, who methodically pick their hosts apart with very clever and very simple football.
Where to now for Sydney FC? Locked near the bottom of the table, one of three horribly underperforming teams, and welcoming one that can hurdle them if they work out the best combination of players.
Perth Glory will have absolutely nothing to fear at Allianz Stadium and will rise to the occasion. All eyes on Luke Ivanovic on his return to his old club, and the script is written for a banana skin for the home team; Sydney will turn to their youth to rejuvenate the attack, while bringing Rhyan Grant back in to sure up the shaky defence.
Giordano Colli to weave through to score the opener but from then on, it’s one way traffic, and Fabio Gomes to finally show us what he can do; a hat-trick to complement some mesmerising wing-play from the classy Robert Mak and Joe Lolley.
The cobwebs were blown off by the Mariners last weekend, beating their fiercest rivals to kick start their season, while some last-minute heroics earned Melbourne Victory a point after playing with ten men for half an hour.
Victory are too good a team this season to be dropping points in games like this, but the Central Coast will be firing on all cylinders. The difference between the teams will be the strikers, Victory getting a sniff at goal to score with both of their chances in the first half, while Marco Tulio and Will Wilson waste glorious opportunities.
In the end, Daniel Arzani will provide the moment of the match in the second half to cap off a devastating smash-and-grab performance, three shots, three goals and less than a third of the possession. The form of champions are the whispers.
Newcastle Jets have an opportunity to inflict further pain on Melbourne City, whose season looks in danger of failing to ignite. The Jets are going to put together a strong first half in the heavy rain at McDonald Jones Stadium, but their inability to pierce the back line and wayward shooting from distance will be their downfall.
Nerves set in as City throw Terry Antonis on to steal the show with a goal and an assist late in the game, the right result on a putrid day, but great entertainment for the fans.
It turns out that Nestory Irankunda does make a big difference to Adelaide United. His growing stature and direct play is a nightmare for defences, and his mere presence will give his team the edge over Macarthur FC in this rearranged Monday night fixture.
Brisbane, Wellington, Sydney, Central Coast, Newcastle, Adelaide
At the risk of annoying an entire state, I’m tipping Brisbane Roar to win against the Wanderers on Friday. It could be a classic and the loss of Brandon Borello will sting the visitors. I hope Wellington beat Western United. They are a nice team to watch when in full flight and United deserve nothing considering their poor performances thus far. Next coach sacked……..watch this space.
It is tough to pick Sydney FC at home against Perth Glory but I will. The Sky Blues fans will be out in force for this one and might just do enough to get the struggling squad over the line. After finally finding a much needed win against the Jets, the Mariners have a tough one against the Victory on the Central Coast. For some reason, I think they can get it done. Tulio the star yet again.
The Jets will beat the visiting City 4-0 and send Newcastle into raptures. I’m not sure why, they just will. The match of the round does look to be the well performed Adelaide United against the Bulls in Sydney. I’ll be getting out to this game with my cowbell, yet feel the Reds might have a weapon or two too many.
Western Sydney, Draw, Sydney, Victory, Newcastle, Adelaide
At long last, the Wanderers are looking like the side that took the competition by storm under Tony Popovic almost a decade ago. Their defence is miserly, though it did at times lead a charmed life in a pulsating Sydney derby last weekend.
They know how to take a lead and keep it, having only conceded in one game so far – against the Jets.
Things continue to go miserably for the homeless Western United, whose championship season must feel as far away as Mars – the planet, not the drop-in shelter they play their games on.
That said, they have been in every game they’ve played this season, with the notable exception of that awful Round 2 hiding to the Wanderers.
Wellington have eked out victories in spite of a pretty low conversion rate. That won’t be helped by the absence of Oskar Zawada with a groin injury, but in young Alex Paulsen, they have a keeper in the form of his life. John Aloisi’s team may be desperate enough to get something out of this.
Sydney FC had enough opportunities to put their fierce rivals away last week but looked that proverbial gift horse in the mouth, and were undone by their former player Zac Sapsford. It remains to be seen whether the 5-1 routing of Adelaide was a dead-cat bounce aberration for Ufuk Talay’s first game, but considering his coaching pedigree, I’d think not.
The Sky Blues are taking on a Perth side who are terrible travellers, a bit like those loud tourists who complain how everything is better at home (not mentioning any countries in particular…). All Perth’s points have come at home so far, and they might be tapping those ruby slippers together fervently at the end of Saturday night.
As I type this, the rain is tumbling down to the north of me, where Central Coast are preparing to play their next AFC Cup game. Whether it goes ahead or is delayed may have a bearing on their game against Victory on Sunday.
The champs finally cracked a victory last week, while Victory scraped a last-gasp draw at Macarthur. However, the Mariners have not found it easy backing up after their Asian Cup commitments. Tony Popovic’s team have drawn three in a row, a very tempting tip for this game too.
There will be goals at both ends, but I think the Victory might benefit from the Mariners soggy midweek exploits. A lot will depend on whether Bruno Fornaroli rediscovers his appetite for goals.
Melbourne City have to travel to and from Japan before they descend on the motorbike track that was once McDonald Jones Stadium. Jets fans must be getting sick of being shunted off their own turf (although Paul McCartney was apparently great!) but as of the time of typing, they’re back there on Sunday.
City are finding the twin pressures of the Champions League and life under a newish coach a chore to navigate in the last few weeks. Jamie McLaren scored a Socceroos hat-trick but saw another penalty saved by an outstanding keeper last start. The two sides have conceded 24 goals collectively in five rounds, so we could be in for a goal-ridden late afternoon in Broadmeadow.
Macarthur’s “home” AFC Cup game has been moved from Campbelltown to Thailand on Thursday due to the government’s refusal to grant visas to their Burmese opponents. This means their Sunday game against Adelaide is now on Monday.
The Bulls have handled their AFC duties better than City or the Mariners, but this bureaucratic spanner thrown into their works will surely disrupt preparations. Adelaide looked unstoppable until they fell victim to a Sydney goal assault two rounds ago.
Carl Veart looks to have righted the Red’s ship, though, expertly steered around the park by Zac Clough. It’s folly to write Macarthur off, but circumstances may conspire against them this round.
Here’s the scores and as always, get involved as part of The Crowd and take on The Roar’s expert tipsters using the form below.
Round 6TexiStuartAndrewThe CrowdBRI v WSWWSWBRIWSW?WUN v WELWELWELDRAW?SYD v PERSYDSYDSYD?CCM v MVCMVCCCMMVC?NEW v MCYMCYNEWNEW?MAC v ADLADLADLADL?Last week2344Total10141515