Adelaide United (8th) v Gold Coast United (3rd)
Friday, November 20
Hindmarsh Stadium, 7:30pm local (8:00pm AEDT)
Adelaide are averaging less than a goal a game this season as their striker worries continue on from previous seasons.
12 goals in 14 matches is not good enough from the team who played off in last season’s Grand Final and the players have been put on notice for what could be a season-defining clash with Gold Coast.
Regular Reds players will need to prove their worth to coach Aurelio Vidmar or face the axe which is a good ultimatum as it may wake some of them up and inspire a positive performance.
Gold Coast on the other hand are going about their business – quietly for once – and their solid 1-0 win over league leaders Sydney FC last time out bodes well for this.
But I believe the Reds can fire in front of their home fans turn the tables on the Round 3 contest when Gold Coast saluted 2-0.
Verdict: Adelaide 2-1.
Brisbane Roar (7th) v Melbourne Victory (2nd)
Saturday, November 21
Suncorp Stadium, 6:00pm local (7:00pm AEDT)
This is the perfect match for the reigning champions, with their backs to the wall after a horrific 4-0 loss at home to the Mariners and being on the road.
The Victory have been brilliant away from Etihad Stadium this season and are in need of a win to keep in touch with top of the table Sydney so I can see a completely different performance from the one they served up last time out.
The Roar were good away at Adelaide last time, notching up a 2-0 win and it is vital that they get some points to keep in the touch with the leading pack but a wounded Melbourne outfit will be very hard to beat.
Verdict: Victory 3-1.
North Queensland Fury (10th) v Central Coast Mariners (4th)
Saturday, November 21
Dairy Farmers Stadium, 8:00pm local (9:00pm AEDT)
The Fury experienced their first loss in five matches before the international break, going down to the previously out of form Newcastle Jets 2-0 but it was just one aberration in over a month after putting together some consistent performances and proving to be hard to beat.
They will be determined to pull themselves off the bottom of the ladder and what a perfect way to do so against a Central Coast outfit who may in cruise control after demolishing last year’s premiers 4-0 at their home fortress.
North Queensland might catch the Mariners by surprise, especially with important defensive duo Karl Dodd and Robbie Middleby back in the squad after injury.
Meanwhile, the Mariners will be flying high after their last outing and regain New Zealand international Michael McGlinchey who will be riding the crest of the World Cup qualifying wave.
However, I feel the plucky Fury side can get the job done despite the fact a win would entrench the Mariners in the top four.
Verdict: Fury 1-0.
Newcastle Jets (9th) v Wellington Phoenix (6th)
Sunday, November 22
EnergyAustralia Stadium, 5:00pm
Wellington travel to the mainland with six players who helped the New Zealand team qualify for the World Cup for the second time in their history so it’s safe to say there may be some players full of confidence.
The word from across the Tasman is that those All Whites players are clearly now focused on the job at hand at club level but it is all very well to say that and then not deliver when it’s crunch time.
Wellington are a team improving with two wins and a draw from their past four but their opponents have finally hit their own form and will be desperate to avenge the 3-0 loss they experienced midweek in early November against the ‘Nix.
The Jets need a win to leapfrog Sunday’s opponents and after a promising showing against the Fury last time out, they can get the job done again.
Verdict: Jets 1-0.
Perth Glory (5th) v Sydney FC (1st)
Sunday, November 22
Members Equity Stadium, 4:00pm local (7:00pm AEDT)
Bizarrely, this is the first encounter between these sides this season even though some other teams are playing each other for the third time in Round 15.
On head-to-head form you cannot judge on season 2009/10 results but recent form against other opposition suggests that Sydney should wrap this one up.
The only factor favouring the Glory is the fact it is being played in Perth, where they are a very hard team to beat.
Sky Blues coach Vitezslav Lavicka has instilled a sense of self-belief in the camp after a year or so in the wilderness and the players are reacting, as seen by Alex Brosque’s call-up to the Australian national team.
I think they have enough firepower to overcome the Glory and with the second best defence in the league, should have no worries keeping out an often misfiring Perth attack.
Verict: Sydney 2-0.