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A-League preview - Round 8

Round 8 of A-League action kicks off tonight with an important clash between Newcastle Jets and Perth Glory.

The match marks the occasion of Jets skipper Matt Thompson playing his 100th A-League match, the first player to do so, which may produce some romance for the home side and their leader.

In saying that, the Glory produced a brilliant performance away from home last week, accounting for Brisbane Roar 4-2 and with first choice goalkeeper Tando Velaphi available, the defence is likely to be strengthened.

Newcastle welcome back Dutch import Donny De Groot from injury and with the chance to overtake tonight's opponents on the table, Branko Culina's men will be desperate to atone for last week's loss to Sydney FC.

The match is set up for a Jets win but Dave Mitchell has the Glory playing with an attacking flair that may prove too much for the home side. Verdict: Glory 2-1.

On Saturday, reigning champions Melbourne Victory meet league leaders Gold Coast United at Skilled Park.

The Victory are coming off a solid away win against rivals Adelaide United whereas United endured their worst loss, going down 3-0 to the Central Coast Mariners.

Ernie Merrick's charges will lose midfield duo Tom Pondeljak and Nicky Ward to injury and illness which will hurt whilst Gold Coast say goodbye to star striker Shane Smeltz for one week due to suspension.

However, they will receive a boost from the return of Joel Porter who will be a straight replacement for striker partner Smeltz.

It is a good week for the Victory to get United without the reigning A-League Player of the Year but I don't think this is a clear-cut contest and a draw may suffice. Verdict: 1-1.

Sunday sees North Queensland Fury host Adelaide United.

The Fury, still rooted to the bottom of the table, are continuing to improve whilst the Reds are simply hot and cold.

The home side will welcome back in-form midfielder Ufuk Talay as Adelaide will be without key Brazilian Alemao which may just be enough for Ian Ferguson's men to notch up their second win of the season. Verdict: Fury 1-0.

The second of the three Sunday games has the Wellington Phoenix up against the consistent Central Coast Mariners who are coming off a huge 3-0 win over league leaders Gold Coast United.

The Mariners find themselves in third position as the Phoenix languish in second bottom with three draws from their past three outings.

The inclusion of Phoenix's Chinese youngster Jiang Chen could prove to be a good move as playmaker Daniel will miss due to personal reasons whilst the Mariners will remain largely unchanged although new signing Matt Crowell may play some part in the contest.

All the form is around the Mariners for this one and I believe Lawrie McKinna's men can produce a result. Verdict: 2-0 Mariners.

Finally, Brisbane Roar meet Sydney FC at Suncorp Stadium in a State of Origin-type encounter.

The Roar were almost deplorable last week, defending poorly on the way to a 4-2 demolition at the hands of Perth Glory whilst Sydney FC got the job done against Newcastle Jets at home.

The Sky Blues are still sitting nicely in second position as the Roar will be desperate to not let this one slip at home.

The return of midfield veteran Danny Tiatto is important for the Roar but Sydney will welcome back a great trio in defender Stephan Keller, midfielder Karol Kisel and striker John Aloisi which will tip the scales in their favour. Verdict:Sydney 2-1.

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Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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