Tara Rushton and Mark Rudan preview the clash between the Roar and Sydney FC.
PLATE AWAITS ROAR
Brisbane Roar will win the Premier’s Plate if it defeats Sydney FC on Friday and Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne Victory lose their respective round 23 matches.
Mike Mulvey’s Roar are sitting pretty atop the A-League ladder and history and recent form suggests the visitors will get their part of the bargain done at Allianz Stadium on Friday night.
Brisbane has won nine of the past 12 matches between the two sides, including two from two this season with a 9-2 aggregate to boot.
With an average of 4.8 goals scored when the Sky Blues and two-time champions have met since last season, fans can expect plenty of action.
At the other end of the field, Brisbane boasts the season’s stingiest defence, having only conceded 20 goals in 22 games in 2013-2014. That will be tested this weekend with Socceroo Ivan Franjic and Jade North missing through injury.
The Sydney derby is as much about the fans as it is the on field action, with the atmosphere at Saturday night’s clash between Sydney FC and the Western Sydney Wanderers at Allianz Stadium unrivalled in Australian sport.
Sydney is sitting comfortably in fourth and three points would go a long way to booking their place in the finals. But they’ll have to do it without Serbian striker Ranko Despotovic, who sustained a knee injury in training this week.
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The battle between Alessandro Del Piero and Thomas Broich will go a long way to deciding this contest. ADP loves playing Brisbane and has scored five goals in as many matches against them.
German Broich stands head and shoulders above his peers when it comes to creating goals. He picked up his 10th assist of the season last week and has 42 since the beginning of 2010-2011 – 17 more than the next best Michael McGlinchey.
CONTENDERS OR PRETENDERS?
Are Adelaide United and Western Sydney Wanderers the real deal?
We’ll go a long way to finding that out when the duo meet at Pirtek Stadium on Saturday night.
Inconsistencies have riddled the two teams this season, and with the finals fast approaching, it’s time to show they’ve got the mettle to match runaway leaders Brisbane.
Tara Rushton and Mark Rudan preview the clash between Adelaide United and Western Sydney Wanderers.
A Wanderers loss this week will be just the first time they’ve experienced three defeats on the bounce in their short history while their opponents Adelaide have also lost two of their past three.
Josep Gombau’s side were being talked up as title contenders after a run that saw them lose just once over a 10-game span, but the brakes have been well and truly applied, and the Reds must now fight to make the finals.
Western Sydney must battle fatigue with a short three-day turnaround from their Asian Champions League success on Wednesday night.
THE SIX-POINT F3 DERBY
You never need an excuse to get Newcastle and Central Coast players up for an F3 derby, but Saturday’s clash at Bluetongue takes on extra significance with both sides battling for a finals place.
The Mariners are clinging to sixth with Clayton Zane’s Jets just a point behind them following last week’s surprise victory over Melbourne Heart.
With the 2013/14 A-League season reaching its climax, three Australian strikers – Adam Taggart, James Troisi and David Williams – remain in the race for the golden boot and a potential place in Ange Postecoglou’s squad for the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
The derby has been good to Central Coast of late, winning two and drawing two of the past four.
Despite a shock win over Sanfrecce in the ACL midweek, Central Coast’s A-League form has left a lot to be desired in recent times.
Phil Moss’s side has one won and lost five of its past six matches and haven’t kept a clean sheet in any of them. In fact, the Mariners’ last clean sheet came in the F3 derby back in round 16.
You wouldn’t call it lift-off, but the Jets are starting to get airborne after a slow start under rookie coach Zane. They’ve won back-to-back games, keeping clean sheets in both of them.
Tara Rushton and Mark Rudan preview the clash between the Mariners and the Jets.
Jets striker Adam Taggart has scored 11 goals this season and has thrust himself into Socceroos contention.
The youngster has been involved in more than 60% of Newcastle’s goals and is just three shy of Joel Griffiths’ Jets record of 14 in a single season.
CAN HEART START AGAIN?
Will they or won’t they? That’s the question everyone’s asking about Melbourne Heart’s finals hopes.
They looked shoe-ins a week ago before Newcastle grounded their five-game winning streak to a screeching halt. John van’t Schip’s side has no time to lick their wounds, with Sunday’s home clash with Wellington taking on a must-win tag for both sides.
Tara Rushton and Mark Rudan preview the clash between Melbourne Heart and Wellington Phoenix..
It’s 8 v 9 and who could forget the Heart’s scintillating display last time it came up against the Phoenix? They romped to a 5-0 victory on that day back in round 19. Can they do it again?
Wellington is fast becoming the Jekyll and Hyde of the A-League. Scoring goals for fun one minute, and looking clueless the next. Two losses on the bounce has Ernie Merrick’s men in serious danger of missing a spot in the playoffs.
The maths begs to differ, but the loser between these two on Sunday can all but kiss goodbye their finals hopes.
VICTORY IN FORM
Melbourne Victory heads into it’s A-League clash with Perth with its tail up, after a win against Central Coast last week before a respectable 2-2 draw with Joenbuk Motors in the ACL on Wednesday.
Kevin Muscat’s side sit comfortably in third and is going for their 100th A-League win from 230 matches.
Tara Rushton and Mark Rudan preview the clash between Melbourne VIctory and Perth Glory.
Victory’s form is impressive – three wins from its past four matches – but Glory don’t mind facing the two-time champions.
Perth has found the back of the net 44 times against the Victory in their history. No teams have scored more against them. In saying that, Melbourne has only failed to find the back of the net against the men from the west just twice in 27 clashes.
Kenny Lowe’s side are fighting for pride, with a finals berth for the cellar dwellers a bridge too far one would think.
Victory isn’t home and hosed in the race to the finals, but can go some way to achieving that with a win at nib Stadium.