Round 5 A-League action kicked off last night with a 1-1 draw between Melbourne Victory and Newcastle Jets at Etihad Stadium. The result showed just how even the competition is this year with the reigning champions dominating proceedings but only grabbing one point against the revitalised Jets who accounted for the previously undefeated Gold Coast United last weekend.
The Phoenix are coming off a 2-0 loss to league leaders Sydney FC whilst the Reds were lucky or unlucky (depends who you speak to) not to defeat North Queensland Fury last Friday, the match ending in a 3-3 draw.
With key defender Robert Cornthwaite out due to suspension for Adelaide who are also missing skipper Travis Dodd, Cassio, Kristian Sarkies and Fabien Barbiero, a win may be too much to ask of a side who have gone off the boil since their opening round win over Perth Glory.
Verdict: Phoenix 2-1, despite the fact Ricki Herbert has indicated he will up to four changes.
The Mariners have proven hard to beat early in the season with coach Lawrie McKinna instilling his usual hardness in his players whilst Dave Mitchell's Glory have put two impressive home wins together after a horror start on the road.
The Glory appear to have too many attacking options for the Mariners to handle although it is at your peril to write off the perennial underdogs.
In saying that, Perth's attacking prowess and recent form gives them the edge over the blue collar Mariners.
Verdict: Glory to win on the road, 1-0.
United experienced a fall from grace of sorts last week, losing 1-0 to the Newcastle Jets, after declaring they would get through the season undefeated.
The Jets were able to close down the creativity of players like Jason Culina (who will miss on international duty), Joel Porter and Shane Smeltz and with that being the obvious way to defeat the new franchise, Sydney coach Vitezslav Lavicka will have a similar plan to go into the match with.
The Sky Blues will be without midfielder Terry McFlynn but striker John Aloisi is expected to be fit which should be enough for a win that will extend their lead at the summit of the table.
Verdict:Sydney are showing enough to notch up a 1-0 win.
The Fury looked dead and buried against Adelaide last week, but managed to hit the lead by scoring twice in the last seven minutes only to be dealt the cruel blow of an injury-time penalty that enforced a draw.
Ian Ferguson has been able to get the team working well together although some kinks in defence need to be ironed out whilst in the Brisbane camp, Frank Farina is beginning to welcome back some key players who have been out with injury.
Defender Josh McCloughan returns which will fill a hole in defence but midfielder Matt McKay will miss.
It is about time the Fury's luck changed and I believe, with Robbie Fowler off the mark from general play, they can produce a winning performance.
Verdict: 2-1 to the Fury.