1,000-ish words, thoughts and musings on round 25 of the A-League which sees Premiers’ Plate winners Sydney FC set to celebrate their triumph on Saturday night in the Harbour City.
Adelaide United v Perth Glory, Friday – Beer Sauce Burger Stadium
Aiming for three wins on the spin Adelaide could leapfrog the misfiring Jets and move into eighth with a win here but they would need to snap a poor run against Perth having lost 3-1 and 5-0 this season. The five-goal defeat was only last month and all Perth’s big names scored (Diego Castro, Andy Keogh and Adam Taggart.) However, the latter duo were pretty ineffectual against Sydney FC when beaten 3-0 so Kenny Lowe might have delivered a rocket at training this week.
Big game for: Lucian Goian. Welcome to the A-League Lucian. The defender’s debut saw him concede an own goal to send Sydney on their way to victory
The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Perth limped into the A-League finals last year after they got dispatched by Sydney FC, following last weekend’s effort versus the Sky Blues they will want to ensure similar doesn’t happen for the next few weeks given they haven’t won for six weeks.
Newcastle Jets v Western Sydney Wanderers, Saturday – McDonald Jones Stadium
It will be seven straight seasons without the finals for the Jets and with owner Martin Lee set to give coach Mark Jones some money for recruitment the 11 players off-contract have a big next few weeks on their hands. They simply wilted in Wellington and with the Wanderers having netted six goals in the last two games it’s hard to see a home win. Dimas returns for the Wanderers here with Ryan Griffiths replacing the suspended Brendon Santalab in the visiting squad.
Big game for: Unbeaten. It won’t quite be a season sweep but the Wanderers can go unbeaten against Newcastle this campaign with a win, or draw, here. After a 2-2 draw at Spotless Stadium earlier this season the Wanderers won 2-0 last time the two sides met.
The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: It’s perhaps poignant that in the first home game after it was confirmed they won’t be in the finals that the Newcastle Jets asked their fans for help. But in a good way. If you are going to the game in Saturday support the Newcastle branch of food charity Oz Harvest and their non-perishable food can drive. Support it if you can or if you don’t live in Newcastle this may be of use.
Sydney FC v Melbourne Sheep Cow Whale Ships, Saturday – Allianz Stadium
Last month in the Victorian capital Bobo scored twice and Brandon O’Neill scored a delightful free kick but Graham Arnold will, no doubt, still be able to use the FFA Cup Final result as motivation here. Two more wins sees the Sky Blues get to a season points total record and with three games to go it would be a better than good chance of happening. They remain without Seb Ryall due to injury in what has been an otherwise smooth few weeks for the Premiers’ Plate winners.
Big game for: Statistics. Wins aside the 14 clean sheets for Sydney FC this campaign is very impressive. Can they register their first clean sheet against the visitors this season?
The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: One person trying to score past Danny Vukovic in this game will be Bruno Fornaroli. The visiting skipper has 17 goals – one behind the Victory’s Besart Berisha in the golden boot stakes.
Melbourne Victory v Wellington Phoenix, Sunday – AAMI Park
After getting hammered 6-1 during October in Melbourne the Nix sprung a surprise to win 3-0 in January, a match that saw them vault into the top six. Not much has gone right for Wellington since then so a 5-0 triumph over Newcastle on Sunday was unexpected. Kevin Muscat’s team will be smarting after their defeat to the Roar cost them a chance at the Premiers’ Plate and Wellington may bear the brunt of this.
Big game for: The returnees. Up to ten internationals could return for this game. The Victory’s Jai Ingham debuted for New Zealand on Tuesday against Fiji in a 2-0 win so will naturally score the winner versus the Kiwi outfit here.
The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: A great final. The Phoenix’s 5-0 triumph wasn’t even the best football game played in Wellington last Sunday. Club World Cup regulars Auckland City will play Team Wellington in the New Zealand domestic final this weekend after the ‘Tee Dubs’ prevailed in an astonishing encounter. Liam Hyslop’s report will give you a flavour for the game. 4-4, 6-6, 3-2 – in sudden death penalties. Plus below is a video highlights package which runs just shy of eight minutes. How good is football?
Brisbane Roar v Central Coast Mariners, Sunday – Suncorp Stadium
Motivation to not finish last, and prepare to kick clear of Newcastle before the F3 Derby, might give Paul Okon’s side a good chance here but they do still have some injury issues with four players missing. Brisbane won 2-1 in Gosford in December having triumphed 1-0 at the same venue in October so John Aloisi’s look set for another one-goal victory right?
Big game for: Striker Roy O’Donovan is set to join Newcastle and it has been a while since a key player of either side made the switch so the Irishman’s next few performances will help give him a happy exit or not. Three goals in three games?
The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: A shot on target. Despite improvement some games this year have been woeful for the Mariners. A case in point was the October match when a Thomas Kristensen goal decided the fixture but the Central Coast couldn’t muster one shot on target in the contest.
The betting bit – One serious one not
Adelaide ($2.35) to continue their winning run on Friday night into a comedy ‘Champions’ banner left in the visiting section on Saturday night in Sydney before the visiting light blue supporters arrive.
Profit: – $80.10 (ten units per investment)
Images via fourfourtwo.com.au and theworldgame.sbs.com.au