A-League Round 21 takes place across two weekends with a Grand Final rematch among the five games.
With Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory beginning AFC Champions League campaigns next week, we get the split round.
Sydney kick off Round 21 with a Friday night clash with Adelaide United, before Victory take on Newcastle Jets in a Grand Final repeat. The third game this week sees leaders Perth Glory visit Melbourne City.
The final two games of Round 21 takes place next week with Brisbane Roar hosting Western Sydney Wanderers and bottom side Central Coast Mariners taking on Wellington Phoenix.
We preview each of the games below:
Sydney FC v Adelaide United
Friday, March 1
It hasn’t been the most prolific month for Sydney to say the least – they’ve lost against Brisbane Roar and drawn with the Central Coast Mariners, but a scrappy 1-0 win over Wellington last week propelled them into second spot on the ladder after Melbourne Victory were held to a draw with City in the derby. Adelaide are another team that haven’t been playing well lately, but find themselves in the top four and looking comfortable for at least a top six place. The Reds are winless in their last three games, losing to the Western Sydney Wanderers and being held to a 0-0 stalemate against the Newcastle Jets last week. Their last win was that famous 4-3 victory over Brisbane Roar, where they came back from 3-0 down after the Roar were reduced to nine men. Both of these teams aren’t impressing at the moment, but at home, you’ve got to give the edge to Sydney.
Prediction: Sydney FC win ($2.12 TopBetta)
Melbourne Victory v Newcastle Jets
Saturday, March 2
Victory will be hoping to reclaim second spot on the ladder when they face the Jets for the third time this season. Following on from there 1-0 win in last season’s Grand Final, Victory have continued to be successful against Newcastle, winning both of their previous encounters this campaign. Victory held cross-town rivals City to a 1-1 draw last week despite playing 75 minutes with 10 men after George Niedermeier was sent from the field in the opening half. Newcastle, meanwhile, will have welcomed a full week’s break after playing four games in the last 12 days leading into last week’s 4-1 defeat away to defending champions Kashima Antlers in the AFC Champions League. The Jets have only lost one of their last eight A-League games including a 0-0 stalemate in a lacklustre encounter with Adelaide last week. It’s a huge game for the Jets, but their recent record against Victory doesn’t give them much cause for optimism. Victory have won the last three and will be determined to get back to winning ways.
Prediction: Victory win ($2.00 TopBetta)
Melbourne City v Perth Glory
Sunday, March 3
Eight points clear at the top of the table and on course for the minor premiership, can Perth Glory keep their foot on the pedal? Perth are on the back of a record 11-game unbeaten streak, and have still lost just the one game over the course of the first 20 rounds. City have felt the brunt of that, failing to score against Perth in their previous two matches this season. And on the back of a 1-1 draw with the Wanderers last week, Popovic will be determined for his side to bounce back to winning ways immediately. City are on a five-match winless streak and are in danger of finding themselves in a real dogfight for a finals spot if they fail to get a result this week. One big bonus for City at the moment is Socceroos striker Jamie Maclaren, who has become the first player in the club’s history to score in his first three games for the team. But can he inspire City to an upset win over Glory? Perth have a fantastic record against City, losing just one of their last nine A-League meetings, and considering the form of both teams coming into this, I don’t think they’ll be losing this one.
Prediction: Glory win ($2.34 TopBetta)
Brisbane Roar v Western Sydney Wanderers
Friday, March 8
Central Coast Mariners v Wellington Phoenix
Saturday, March 9
Phoenix will be determined to pick up all three points against the struggling Mariners as the Kiwi club look to get their finals aspirations back on track. Wellington held a 10-point lead over the seventh-placed Newcastle Jets not so long ago, but having played an extra game with the split round across the last two weekends, Ernie Merrick’s side have climbed to within two points of Phoenix, who haven’t won in their last four games. Central Coast are almost certainly on course for another wooden spoon following a nightmare campaign that has seen them win just once in 20 rounds. But they are unbeaten against Phoenix in Gosford in their last four games and have kept a clean sheet in two of those encounters. With Phoenix playing their fifth game away from Wellington on the trot, the Mariners may just have a chance.
Prediction: Glory win ($3.60 TopBetta)