- Rest of World
|SoccerAnchor's A-League Preview: Round 23|
The Gold Coast United-FFA kerfuffle seemingly has been put to bed, with the club having its licence revoked for bringing the game into disrepute. The real question now is whether owner Clive Palmer will field a side for the remaining four matches. The clash between Perth and Adelaide clash has been moved to Thursday evening, whilst Brisbane aim to close the gap to leaders Central Coast Mariners when they face Melbourne Heart...
Thursday, 1 March 2012
Adelaide United - Perth Glory
Originally scheduled for Sunday, the FFA decided to play this match early to accommodate Adelaide's upcoming Asian Champions League opener against Bunyodkor in Uzbekistan. Having lost to Newcastle last week by a solitary goal, the Reds are seemingly out of the finals race. But coach John Kosmina has not given up hope, and believes four wins can be achieved. Sergio van Dijk makes his 100th A-League appearance, whilst Iain Fyfe is welcomed back to the club as a replacement for Milan Susak, who has joined Chinese Super League side Tianjin Teda.
Perth's amazing home run ended last weekend by a rampant Brisbane Roar, demolishing the Glory 3-0. Losing twice in three weeks, the Western Australians still harbour ambitions of finishing in second place, but were dealt a severe blow. Mile Sterjovski will no longer be selectable for coach Ian Ferguson, as he has joined Chinese Super League side Dalian Aerbin for an "irrefutable" offer. Jacob Burns also avoided an repercussions for accidentally elbowing Brisbane's Henrique, but the Brazilian copped a two-week ban.
The Glory need the win if the are to keep their chances alive, whilst the Reds have lost three of four home matches..
Prediction: Adelaide United 1-2 Perth Glory
Friday, 2 March 2012
Brisbane Roar - Melbourne Heart
Watch out Huyndai A-League, Brisbane are back, and they want first place on the table. The Roar have shown in recent weeks they can not only win, but beat their nearest rivals. Beating Central Coast Mariners and Wellington Phoenix 2-0, the Roar went on to demolish Perth Glory 3-0 last weekend. Playmaker Henrique was instrumental in the win - having scored a goal and set one up - but the Brazilian was shown his marching orders for an elbow on Jacob Burns. Thomas Broich will return - and what a handy replacement!
The Heart have supposedly forgotten how to lose matches, gaining another 1-0 win last weekend against league leaders Central Coast Mariners. Eli Babalj popped up again, scoring in the 49th minute for the second time in as many weeks. Mate Dugandzic and Aziz Behich's return to the first team saw a notable improve in how the side played, but they will not be setting their sights on claiming another big scalp.
The Heart were the team to end Brisbane's two-and-a-half year winning record at Suncorp, but the Roar's recent form seems hard to back against.
Prediction: Brisbane Roar 2-0 Melbourne Heart
Saturday, 3 March 2012
Melbourne Victory - Newcastle Jets
Are Melbourne Victory out of the finals race after failing to defeat Gold Coast United last week? Requiring a win, the Blue & White could only claim a 1-1 draw with the much talked-about club. Sitting in eighth place, MVFC are six points behind their opposition, who occupy the spot they crave, with four matches to go. Harry Kewell and Carlos Hernandez have been the men who have carried the side in recent weeks whilst Archie Thompson has failed to hit the back of the net. No Adrian Leijer, Fabio or Grant Brebner for coach Jim Magilton to select.
Newcastle almost booked their spot in the top six last week, by eliminating another side in the hunt in Adelaide United 1-0. Tarek Elrich's first-half strike means the Jets can also realistically aim to finish in the top four, as Perth slipped up. Four wins in five outings is good form at the right time of the seasons, and Gary van Egmond has a full squad to choose from, as Jobe Wheelhouse returns.
Victory did beat Newcastle last time they met in December, and have an impressive record against the Jets in Melbourne. They are unbeaten since 2007 in Victoria.
Prediction: Melbourne Victory 2-1 Newcastle Jets
Central Coast Mariners - Sydney FC
One win in five is not the form someone expects from a side leading the A-League standings, but that is the predicament Central Coast Mariners face. Their gap at the top has been swallowed by Brisbane Roar, and only three points separates the two sides. Revelation Tomas Rogic has been named NAB Young Footballer of the Month, but he will have to keep Mustafa Amini out of the starting XI. Royston Griffiths has joined Chinese Super League champions Guangzhou. John Sutton had a wonderful chance to opening his CCM goalscoring account last week, but missed a penalty in the 1-0 loss to Melbourne Heart.
The New South Wales Derby would normally headline the week, but liile interest has been given to it this time around. Sydney FC did drop three points to Wellington last week, and their run home doesn't get much easier. If they wish to qualify for the finals, a win on Saturday is a must. Brett Emerton and Nicky Carle will be on a high after their performance - and win - for the Socceroos against Saudi Arabia midweek.
Despite the current negativity surrounding the league leaders, they are unbeaten in the last four against the Sky Blues, and his trend should continue.
Prediction: Central Coast Mariners 2-1 Sydney FC
Sunday, 4 March 2012
Wellington Phoenix - Gold Coast United
There is a real risk of this match not going ahead, but we will preview it just in case Gold Coast United field a side.
Wellington got back to winning ways last weekend as they snuck a rare 1-0 win in Sydney against the Sky Blues. Once again, Paul Ifill was the goalscorer on the day, taking his tally to six for the season. Third place for the Phoenix has not yet been sewn up, but the two-point buffer to fourth-placed Perth will want to be extended.
The FFA have terminated GOld Coast's licence, but the club has stated it will "attempt" to field a side for the remaining four matches of the season. Owner Clive Palmer has since revealed he intends to set up his own league, making for an interesting period ahead. On the field, 'Glitter FC' grabbed a 1-1 draw with Melbourne Victory last week, but have not won a game in 11 matches.
Depending on what side GCU field, Wellington at home should still win.
Prediction: Wellington Phoenix 2-0 Gold Coast United