A-LEAGUE WEEK 18
BRISBANE ROAR V SYDNEY FC
Bernie Ibini proved to be the hero for Sydney on Australia Day when he bagged a superb individual effort to give Sydney the excellent comeback win away to Melbourne Victory. That game has more less confirmed Sydney for the minor premiership and they look extremely likely to go all the way and lift the trophy.
They will have one more hard task en route to the finals though, with Brisbane Roar up next. The Roar put six goals past Global FC in the AFC Champions League qualifier midweek and they did that while using an under strengthened team, perhaps with one eye on this match.
Sydney are winless in the league in Brisbane since 2014 and they'll need to step things up once more if they are to break that streak. I don't see this game as being a blowout as Brisbane are always a tough team to verse at home and they've shown time and time again that they can find a late equaliser or winner past the 90 minute mark.
A great game of football will be on display and we'll base our play off the quality of both defences.
WELLINGTON PHOENIX V WESTERN SYDNEY
A solid display from Wellington last week as they found themselves conceding extremely early and very late on against Adelaide last week. Tom Doyle and Krishna found the net that day as Phoenix went in at half time with the lead but unfortunately they let Adelaide score late on and had to settle for a point.
There was a lot to like about Phoenix' performance however as they were on the back foot for the majority of the match and found their chances limited. The fact they managed to bag two goals from 4 shots on target for the entire match is admirable, although Adelaide made 27 shots in total and only found the target 9 times. A woeful 33% shooting accuracy. They now face a Western Sydney team who were another victim of the Brisbane Roar late show last week and they'll be looking to give everything when travelling across the ditch.
Western Sydney are winless in their last two efforts in NZ but managed a win when Santalab bagged a double back in April last year. They were unlucky against Roar and the week before they were very composed and neat against a sporadically performing Newcastle squad.
Hard to split these two and the draw looks like a bet.
MELBOURNE VICTORY V MELBOURNE CITY
The Melbourne derby will be the feature of the round no doubt. The fact City need to win to distance themselves from the rest of the top 6 chasers and incorporated with the fact that Victory need the win to continue to put the pressure on the breakaway Sydney FC team is critical.
The form usually can be thrown out when teams this close in the ladder and proximity play one another as the match often throws up mixed results. Victory are probably the more clinical of the two squads, outscoring City by ten goals but conceding the same amount, although City have the X factor in Tim Cahill and that always leads to chances, if not goals.
You could analyse this match all day and have several different point of views, but just to reiterate an earlier point, this is a derby match that can go either way and whatever happens, it still wouldn't be a surprise.
PERTH GLORY V NEWCASTLE JETS
A good mid table clash here between two teams that you can make a case for. Perth have been good at home this year apart from a 1-4 drubbing by Sydney FC, although that's not the biggest disgrace this year based on the performance from the unassailable league leaders. They host Newcastle who are still putting their faith in youth and building their team around a select few.
Andrew Nabbout has been nothing short of brilliant in recent times and his name is even being touted as a possible international player, something which would be quite astounding. He bagged two goals to beat Melbourne City last week and both goals were absolutely class, if he can continue to bring that form then Jets are a massive chance here.
The home advantage for Perth is the big plus as I can't see too many travelling fans from Newcastle making much of a difference here. I don't like tipping against Newcastle as they've become a massive thorn in the sides of teams this year but I'll take the history into consideration here and go with Perth
CENTRAL COAST V ADELAIDE UTD
The last game of the round takes us to Canberra where the two bottom placed sides go head to head in a bid to escape the dreaded wooden spoon. If Adelaide can manage a win then they'll be off the bottom for the first time in what seems like months, however Central Coast have somewhat solidified in recent weeks and they'll be fancying themselves to get the three points.
Adelaide have been awful on the road in recent times and they have only managed to score one goal in their last five outings. That is a very depressing stat if you are an Adelaide fan and to make things worse, they have conceded eight goals in those five matches. They should be able to bag a few goals against the Mariners but they'll most likely concede just as many, if not more.
I don't normally like being in the Central Coast corner but I feel like they are actually good value. There should be plenty of goals in the match seeing as though both defences are a bit hows-your-father, but the strikers aren't too crash hot either. Adelaide's marquee signing Sergi Guardiola was sent home last week after coming to a mutual consent decision with the club, something I think was best for both parties here.
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%