A-League Round 22 features five games with Perth Glory bidding to maintain their lead and move a step closer to the Premiers Plate.
Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory remain in a battle for a top two spot and face Melbourne City and Brisbane Roar respectively.
We preview each of the games below:
Adelaide United vs Perth Glory
Friday, March 15
Perth Glory sit six points clear at the summit of the A-League ladder, but successive draws will be of minor concern for coach Tony Popovic heading into the final months of the season. Glory have been held to stalemates by Western Sydney Wanderers (1-1) and Melbourne City (2-2) in their most recent games but they remain clear of Sydney FC and in the driving seat for the Premiers Plate. It will be a third straight away game for Glory, but they visit an Adelaide United side which has faltered over the last month. The Reds still sit in fifth spot on the ladder but a winless four-game run in which they have collected just two points from 12 has threatened to derail their finals push. Adelaide lost 2-0 to Sydney FC in their most recent outing and also went down to Western Sydney, while picking up draws against Melbourne City and Newcastle Jets. Marco Kurz’s side have failed to score in the previous two meetings this season, losing 2-0 at home before claiming a point from a 0-0 draw in Perth. It could be another game without a win for Adelaide.
Prediction: Perth Glory win ($2.36 TopBetta)
Newcastle Jets vs Central Coast Mariners
Saturday, March 16
Central Coast Mariners’ sorry season hit rock bottom last weekend when they were beaten 8-2 by Wellington Phoenix and it cost coach Mike Mulvey his job. Alen Stajcic takes over the reins after being appointed caretaker manager and his spell in charge begins with an F3 Derby at rivals Newcastle Jets. With just one win and seven points earned all season, Stajcic may have a tough job turning things around at Central Coast. The wooden spoon looks increasingly likely with an eight-point gap to Brisbane Roar and only six games remaining. The Jets have got themselves back into finals contention with a five-game unbeaten run, and Ernie Merrick’s side now sit just four points behind sixth placed Melbourne City. Newcastle enjoy last weekend off after earning a 2-0 win over Melbourne Victory, and history suggests that their recent run of form won’t come to an end on Saturday. The Jets have won the last five F3 derbies and haven’t lost at home to Central Coast in more the six years. Even with a new manager in place, there’s little reason to expect that to change.
Prediction: Jets win ($1.31 TopBetta)
Melbourne Victory vs Brisbane Roar
Saturday, March 16
Melbourne Victory’s premiers plate hopes have been dashed by a run of four games without a win in the A-League and Saturday night’s clash with Brisbane Roar could be a pivotal point of the season. It is now a six-game winless run in all competitions for Kevin Muscat’s side with the four A-League games accompanied by two defeats to start Victory’s AFC Champions League campaign including a 2-1 loss at Sanfrecce Hiroshima on Tuesday night. A 2-0 defeat against Newcastle Jets two weeks ago saw Melbourne slip to 10 points behind ladder leaders and four adrift of Sydney FC in second spot, and Victory need to end the winless run against Roar if they are to challenge for a top two finish. Second from bottom Roar have been trading wins and losses in recent weeks but they come into this game after a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Adelaide United last weekend. The bad news for Roar fans is their poor record against Victory with Brisbane having won just two of the last nine meetings. Melbourne won 4-2 and 5-0 in the two previous meetings this season and they should complete the clean sweep.
Prediction: Victory win ($1.37 TopBetta)
Wellington Phoenix vs Western Sydney Wanderers
Sunday, March 17
Wellington Phoenix come into the game fresh on the back of last weekend’s 8-2 demolition over Central Coast Mariners and strengthened their grip on a finals spot as a result. Phoenix sit in fourth spot heading into Round 22 and can take a step closer to the finals when they host Western Sydney Wanderers. The Wanderers won just one game during a troublesome first half of the season – that coming at Westpac Stadium in Round 3. But they have really found their feet in recent times. Markus Babbel’s Western Sydney side are unbeaten in their last four and clinging on to slim hopes of making the finals, although victory in Wellington will be needing if they are to continue that late surge. Wanderers beat Brisbane Roar 4-1 in their last game to make it back-to-back away wins and they now go in search of three in a row on the road for the first time in more than three years. But things won’t be easy on Sunday with Phoenix having won four of their last five home games at Westpac. In their current form, though, Western Sydney can claim a point. Western Sydney have lost just one of the last nine meetings between the sides, the most recent encounter in Sydney in January, and that good record against Phoenix can count.
Sydney FC vs Melbourne City
Sunday, March 17
Sydney FC return home from AFC Champions League action as they continue the chase of A-League ladder leaders Perth Glory in the final game of Round 22 on Sunday night. The Sky Blues follow a 0-0 home draw with Ulsan Hyundai in their ACL opener by going down 1-0 to Kawasaki Frontale in Japan, but attention now turns back to the A-League. Steve Corica’s Sydney side sit in second spot heading into Round 22 and will be out to keep the distant pressure on Perth in the race for the Premiers Plate. They face a Melbourne City side which has lost its way a little and failed to win any of the last six games, one of which was a 2-0 defeat to Sydney FC. They did, however, hold Glory 2-2 most recently. As a result Warren Joyce’s side have slipped to sixth spot on the ladder and started the weekend with just a four-point cushion to seventh-place Newcastle Jets. Melbourne have lost the last seven head to heads and haven’t beaten Sydney in the harbour city since 2015. The winless run looks set to be extended to seven games and the finals pressure pumped up a notch further.
Prediction: Sydney FC win ($1.93 TopBetta)