Adelaide United v Sydney FC
Friday, October 16
Kick-off: 7:30pm local (8:00pm AEDT)
The Sky Blues have kicked to a two-point lead at the top of the table, winning three of their past four outings whilst the Reds continue to mix their form, this time coming off a 1-0 loss to Perth Glory.
Last week, Sydney dismantled Melbourne Victory in Melbourne to stamp their authority on the competition and have every chance of winning away from home for the second week in a row due to the fact they have minimal casualties.
Vitezslav Lavicka has an embarrassment of riches in his squad and can add young guns Kofi Danning and Rhyan Grant to his list of potential starters for tonight’s clash.
In the Reds camp, Daniel Mullen and Paul Reid return from injury which is a boost for Aurelio Vidmar but at the same time, skipper Travis Dodd will miss with a calf injury.
Coach Frank Farina was given the boot this week after being caught drink-driving last weekend and after sitting third just a few weeks ago, find themselves clinging onto sixth spot.
A narrow loss to Gold Coast United last week was probably not the result the Roar was looking for but their 1-0 salute over current league leaders Sydney FC in Round 8 shows they are capable of performing.
Meanwhile, the Mariners are coming off a 1-1 draw at home with bottom side North Queensland Fury and need to improve sharply to overcome the Roar who will be playing for new coach Ange Postecoglou.
The key is the return of Australia defender Craig Moore from international duty to the Roar line-up.
Verdict: Roar 1-0.
They have lost just once since round 3 but have not been able to land the killer blow on more than one occasion (1-0 away win over Sydney FC).
If any sort of luck falls their way they are good enough to beat the Phoenix but in sport you make your own luck and Ian Ferguson needs to get his men firing.
Key midfielder Ufuk Talay returns from suspension which is a positive for the Fury but the season-ending knee injury of defender Scott Wilson is sure to put a dampener on things.
The Phoenix are coming off a week off due to the New Zealand national team’s World Cup qualifier against Bahrain and should be fresh going into much warmer conditions than they are used to.
Ricki Herbert is expected to make little, if any, changes to the team that held Gold Coast United to a scoreless draw in round 9 but I think the Fury, led by Robbie Fowler, will be good enough to record a much-needed victory.
Verdict: Fury 1-0.
That relates to reigning champions Melbourne who were demolished in front of just over 30,000 loyal fans by Sydney FC last week.
Ernie Merrick’s men rarely go down two weeks in a row and the loss to rivals Sydney will be hurting more than any other they have had so far this season.
The Victory will lose recruit Robbie Kruse who may miss up to three weeks with a hamstring injury but apart from that will almost be at full-strength.
The Jets are also coming off a quiet week as their round 10 game with Wellington was postponed until early November.
A week off to freshen could be the tonic they need to turn their recent form of three losses and two draws around but the loss of former Victory man Ljubo Milicevic will hurt.
Young Socceroos trio Ben Kanatrovski, Sean Rooney and Jason Hoffman are all back from the U20 World Cup and will provide some much-needed youthful exuberance into a team who has stagnated in the past five weeks.
The Victory will rue their performance last week and I cannot see them displaying themselves so poorly this week.
Verdict: Victory 2-1.
The pair are only separated by goal difference, highlighting the tightness of the top few teams at the moment.
Two enormous inclusions for United are striker Shane Smeltz who is back from international duty with New Zealand as midfielder Jason Culina has finished his duties for Australia and should take his place in the starting line-up.
Those two alone, if they start, should be too much for the Glory to handle but we have seen teams take it right up to United and if any team can it’s the Glory.
Dave Mitchell’s charges have won three of their past four which reads well for this assignment but the two top-scoring sides in the league are too hard for me to separate.
Verdict: Draw 2-2.