Round 13 of A-League action kicks off tonight with an interesting clash between the Brisbane Roar and Newcastle Jets. Brisbane Roar (8th) v Newcastle Jets (9th) Suncorp Stadium Friday, October 30 Kick-off 7:30pm local (8:30pm AEDT) The Jets turned around some recent poor form by accounting for fierce rivals Central Coast Mariners last week whilst the Roar left Sydney empty-handed despite a barrage of forward pressure in the dying moments.
It's a tough game to call with both outfits playing well below their best for most of the season and the fact that the Roar have a superior head-to-head record may sway me their way.
The inclusion of veterans Danny Tiatto (return from injury) and Craig Moore (return from suspension) will provide leadership and grunt for the home side whilst the Jets may get back striker Sasho Petrovski which will strengthen their forward options.
The positive for the Jets in recent weeks has been the form of Labinot Haliti who has singlehandedly been keeping them in contests and he could do so again but four losses in a row to the Roar indicates something has to fall their way soon and I'm tipping it to be tonight. Verdict: Roar 2-1.
Central Coast Mariners (5th) v Adelaide United (6th) Canberra Stadium Saturday, October 31 Kick-off 7:00pm Both sides have mixed their form in the past fortnight with a win and a loss each which makes it a very hard contest to pick a winner.
The Mariners are capable of anything but often their best is not on show (although their 3-0 win over Brisbane two weeks ago was impressive) whilst the Reds are the most topsy-turvy team in the competition.
A lacklustre performance against their rivals Melbourne Victory last week showed they are severely lacking confidence and morale whereas the Mariners seem to be far more settled.
That being the case, I believe Central Coast will get the chocolates but narrowly. Verdict: Mariners 1-0.
Gold Coast's billionaire Clive Palmer has decided to cap the crowd at 5000 so even if United fans want to see visiting superstar Robbie Fowler in action, they won't be able to.
Anyways, on to the game at hand: Gold Coast received the equal-biggest beating in A-League history when they were demolished 6-0 by the Wellington Phoenix last weekend whilst the Fury came from behind to record an inspiring win over the Perth Glory at home.
Fowler was at it again, using all of his cunning to score the equaliser from a quickly-taken free-kick before Dyron Daal netted the winner to give Ian Ferguson's men just their second victory of the season.
After the heavy defeat it would be stupid to write off the stars of Gold Coast and they will be determined to bounce back but they have to face a plucky North Queensland outfit who are fast becoming everybody's 'second' team. Verdict: Can't split this one - 2-2 draw
Sydney FC (1st) v Wellington Phoenix (7th)Sydney Football Stadium Sunday, November 1 Kick-off 5:00pm I doubt this one will have a scoreline similar to Wellington's last outing but stranger things in football have happened.
The Phoenix will be hoping the 6-0 flogging of Gold Coast was not a flash in the pan but I bet the Sky Blues will be.
That said, Vitezslav Lavicka's men have become a well-organised outfit, conceding just 10 goals from 12 matches and doing the damage down the other end.
With a raft of in-form attacking players including Alex Brosque, Terry McFlynn and Karol Kisel, the home side should prove too hard to beat but any side that can put six goals past their opponents - especially with the evenness of this year's competition - should not be underestimated. Verdict:Sydney 2-1.
Perth Glory (4th) v Melbourne Victory (2nd) Members Equity Stadium Sunday, November 1 Kick-off 4:00pm local (7:00pm AEDT) Clearly the match of the round despite the fact Perth have lost two on the trot.
The Victory struggle in Western Australia meaning they may come back to the Glory's recent playing field, which has been average at best.
The visitors cut through Adelaide United last week and have scored the most goals in the league, spelling imminent danger for the Glory but as I mentioned, a poor record in Perth may be their undoing.
The Glory need to win to keep themselves in the hunt but will be without attacking midfielder Victor Sikora who misses with a hamstring injury.
Striker Mile Sterjovski is expected to play which will provide Perth with some much-needed creativity up forward but I sense that the Victory are just about to hit top gear and this time they will take their game to the highest level despite crossing the Nullarbor. Verdict: Victory 3-1.