A-LEAGUE WEEK 17
MELBOURNE VICTORY V SYDNEY FC
Sydney FC remarkably remain undefeated this season and all eyes will be on the Australia Day clash with Melbourne Victory to see if this streak can continue.
Sydney FC will be without two key defenders with Rhyan Grant sitting out due to suspension and Seb Ryall still recovering from a hamstring injury that he suffered in January. Melbourne welcome back 3 key players who are all expected to return to the starting eleven in Geria, Ben Khalfallah and Bozanic. These three key players are exactly what Muscat needs to stop the likes of Ninkovic and Bobo causing problems.
Obviously this match will have a massive bearing on the Premiers plate and also the A-league season as a whole so this is a must win for both teams, especially for Melbourne who have the hometown advantage.
History really means nothing in these kind of matches as the stakes haven't been this high for a number of years and anything can happen. Although this screams goals, I think both teams will take the first half very cautiously and be quite willing to play safer rather than try anything too serious and that's what our play is based off.
NEWCASTLE JETS V MELBOURNE CITY
A tough ask here for Melbourne City even though they've won four of their past five games against the Jets. The Jets are a team who are seemingly always going through some stage of transition where they are trying to build for the future rather than the present. This is backed up with the announcement that they've signed the Petratos' brothers for the 2017-18 season. They are however still impressing in the league with the limited resources and unfortunate injuries.
City were on a decline until they managed to scrape home past a weak Central Coast side that still managed to get themselves back in the game. Tim Cahill put two quick goals away but when Roy O'Donovan was sent off for a laughable excuse, the momentum was well and truly back in City's favour.
The goals usually flow in this fixture and especially on the side of City and I can see goals happening in this match.
CENTRAL COAST MARINERS V PERTH GLORY
Usually facing Central Coast would be a comforting thing as they historically aren't a team who can threaten all that much, though they've been showing glimpses lately of a team who still have a bit of fight left in them. A lot of their players are young and only on short term contracts so they are desperate to show why they should be considered for renewals and possibly something bigger down the path and these last couple of rounds could shape their futures.
Perth are a strange team to follow at the moment, they seemingly recruited well and locked down a few good players who are starring such as Diego Castro, but they have the ability to throw away matches and only get a point when they should be collecting all three.
It's not ideal having these teams face each other at the moment as you can make strong cases for both. Perth being undefeated in 5 rounds is a great stat to have and Central Coast themselves have only lost to Perth in Gosford once in their entire history of 18 matches.
This will be probably the closest match of the round and I can see this going either way. I fancy Perth to back themselves and come out firing, but I believe Central Coast have the ability and the grinding potential to get themselves in the match. I recommend having something in-play on Central coast if Perth find the expected first and early goal.
BRISBANE ROAR V WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS
There's never a dull moment at Brisbane Roar this year, if it's not questions about the ownership of the Bakrie group, it's the contractual situation of a number of players that currently is stealing the headlines. Jamie Maclaren, arguably the Roar's best player has seen himself drop to the bench the last couple of weeks but that still didn't stop him from grabbing the solitary goal and winner in the 88th minute against Wellington last week.
The roar return home and kit up against the Wanderers who took a vital 2-0 win against the Jets in a match that somewhat has galvanised some of the Western Sydney players. The wanderers have been very disappointing this year but still find themselves floating around that finals spot. A win here would be massive but even a point would still be welcomed considering the tough away trip ahead.
I think both teams will be playing a lot more expressively as the expected benching of Maclaren again will boost the morale in the WSW dressing room and the home advantage of the Brisbane faithful will be a challenge for the travelling Wanderers. I like the roar to win this one even with the increasing backroom drama that has surfaced in recent weeks
ADELAIDE UNITED V WELLINGTON PHOENIX
Adelaide gave their fans something to finally cheer when they came from behind to beat City 2-1, they then promptly returned to their unfortunate theme of disappointment when losing to Sydney FC. Wellington aren't much better in this regard as they saw their short but sweet run come to an end at home when Durante failed to clear a simple ball, allowing Maclaren to grab the winner late. Crushing for the Phoenix faithful.
This weekend will be a tester for Phoenix as they are currently lingering in finals contention and will need to pick up points wherever they can in all of the remaining fixtures to ensure a finals run. I think it's all too late for Adelaide as they haven't got the necessary points or talent to make the finals so they'll just be looking to make the fans cheer for whatever reason.
Adelaide will go out and play with absolutely nothing to lose here and sometimes that is the best remedy to the poison that has been their season. I actually fancy them to win this one and send Wellington home with nothing but a taste of disappointment.
WEEK RESULTS STAKES ROI Grand Final -5 5 -100% Finals Week Two +23 10 230% Finals Week One -10 10 -100% Week Twenty-Six -6.65 15 -44% Week Twenty-Five +12.9 22 59% Week Twenty-Four -2.5 14 -18% Week Twenty-Three +15.83 19 83% Week Twenty-Two -11.25 18 -63% Week Twenty-One -1.79 16 -11% Week Twenty +2.24 16 14% Week Nineteen +20 11 182% Week Eighteen +12.16 11 111% Week Seventeen -5.88 15 -39% Week Sixteen -2.5 11 -23% Week Fifteen -15 15 -100% Week Fourteen +0.93 17 4% Week Thirteen +5.5 13 42% Week Twelve +3.05 18 17% Week Eleven -7.18 13 -55% Week Ten -2.07 18 -12% Week Nine +0.51 15 3% Week Eight -20 20 -100% Week Seven -3.22 16 -20% Week Six +10.2 14 73% Week Five -16 16 -100% Week Four -0.27 15 -2% Week Three -4.6 13 -35% Week Two -0.70 12 -6% Week One +1.05 12 9% Total -7.24 420 -2%