CC Image courtesy of Warren Major on Flickr
CC Image courtesy of Warren Major on Flickr

The second last round of the Hyundai A-League regular season is upon us this weekend, with positions 2 to 6 still undecided and a few crucial fixtures to be played out. With an impressive 2 out 5 tips proven successful last round, G’day League is here to give you all the news,facts and predictions for this week’s matches.

Adelaide United v Melbourne Heart –  Friday 4 April   7:00pm  Coopers Stadium

Adelaide will have a chance to regain second place on the ladder with a win here against the Heart, who are assured of missing the finals this season. Adelaide, buoyed by the return of Jeronimo and Cirio, responsible for 17 of Adelaide’s goals this season, will look to continue a recent run of form, including wins against Sydney and Wellington.

Melbourne Heart, if they are to pull off the win, will need to do it without the services of Harry Kewell who is out with an abdominal strain.

Interestingly, the two previous fixtures between these clubs this season have resulted in a 3-3 and 2-2 draw.

Stats fo yo ass!

  • Adelaide are strong at home – The Reds have lost just two home games all year, and are currently on an unbeaten streak of 8 games.
  • They also do not mind high scoring affairs at home either – Adelaide have scored at least one goal in every home fixture this season and a whopping 68% of these matches have ended with 2.5+ goals.
  • Melbourne do not travel well – The Heart have managed just a single win from their 12 away games this year, with a record of (1W 4D 7L)
  • They have not won in a month – Melbourne have a record of 0W 1D  3L in their last four outings.

Prediction:

Adelaide 3-1

It is a brave man who tips 4 goals in a game, but given Adelaide’s strong home form and penchant for high scoring affairs, I cannot see the Heart being able to shutdown a team that is on a roll and looking to secure a tightly-contested 2nd place on the ladder.

 

Newcastle Jets v Melbourne Victory  –  Saturday 5 April 5:30pm  Hunter Stadium

The Jets will be looking to regain entry to the top-six with a win over Melbourne here, and can heap the pressure on Sydney in their Sunday fixture against Wellington. Meanwhile, the Victory will have dreams of being in second place by Sunday night, should other results go their way.

For Newcastle, defender Zenon Caravella has joined Neville and Cooper on the list of injured after his knee injury last week, and this has thrown up some changes to the Newcastle starting squad.

Melbourne will welcome back Ansell, Broxham, Rogic and Nabbout.

Stats fo yo ass!

  • Adelaide are the Even-Stevens of home form – 4 wins, 4 draws, 4 losses
  • However, the Reds also have the wood on Victory at home – Melbourne have won just once in their last 10 visits to Newcastle
  • Melbourne have forgotten the meaning of a clean sheet – They have conceded at least one goal in their last 15 games.
  • However they also lead from the front – Victory are yet to lose this season when they have scored first (7W 1D 0L)
  • The two previous fixtures this season have seen a 2-1 win for Victory at home and a 1-1 draw at Newcastle.

Prediction:

1-1 draw

I almost expect to see Adam Taggart improve his goalscoring tally again in this match, but the thought of second place on the ladder will push Melbourne toward the equaliser. I actually would not be surprised to see them win 2-1.

 

Western Sydney Wanderers v Brisbane Roar  –  Saturday 5 April  7:45pm  Pirtek Stadium

As can be said of about half the teams this week, Wanderers will be eyeing off second place this weekend if they can win at home to the Brisbane Roar. Their ranks will be bolstered by the return of Spiranovic and Haliti, as the Wanderers look to turn around some of their recent indifferent form.

With the premiership secure, Roar will now be looking to maintain their recent unbeaten run (4W 1D 0L) into the finals, with testing matches against the Wanderers and Mariners still to come. They will be without the services of talisman striker Besart Berisha this week (who received a one match suspension for last week’s red card against the Heart). However, the return of Franjic and Brattan, responsible for 8 of Brisbane’s goal this season (and both contenders for goal of the year one would think).

Stats fo yo ass!

  • Wanderers maintain a fortress at home – They have lost just two matches at home this season (6W 4D 2L). They have also never lost to the Roar while playing at home.
  • However, Western Sydney seem to be suffering a slump at the wrong time of the year – Their recent form reads 1W 1D 3L, with losses against Newcastle, Sydney and Central Coast.
  • Brisbane have not won in their last 4 away matches – Their last win came against Victory on the 4 January.
  • Previous fixtures from this season have seen a 3-1 victory to the Roar at home and a 1-1 draw at the Wanderers.

Prediction:

2-1 Roar

The Roar are the form team in this years competition and the aura of invincibility that the Wanderers have at home is starting with a recent loss to the Jets and draw to Adelaide United. Expect McKay’s crosses and darting runs to yield goals.

Perth Glory v Central Coast Mariners  –  Saturday 5 April  9:30pm  NIB Stadium

The other team competing for second position this week, the Central Coast Mariners will attempt to stem any momentum the Glory tries to build this week after its first home win in 10 matches. With an away fixture against the Roar for their final match in the regular season, the Mariners will know they need to capitalise in this fixture against the bottom-placed Perth.

The Glory will welcome back the services of Cameron Edwards and Danny de Silva, but will remain without big name players Travis Dodd and Shane Smeltz. The only change to the Mariners squad is the inclusion of Glen Trifiro.

Stats fo yo ass!

  • Despite poor recent form, the Glory have been strong at home this year – 5W 4D 3L, with losses to Victory, the Wanderers and the Mariners
  • The Mariners do not travel exceedingly well – Ranked 7th in away form, their record stands at 3 wins, 3 draws 5 losses. THe victories over Perth, Sydney and Melbourne Heart
  • However, the win would be there fourth on the trot – With Newcastle, the Heart and Western Sydney all falling victims to a strong run-in to the finals.
  • This years previous match-ups show 2-1 victories at home and away for the Mariners

Prediction:

Mariners 2-0

Despite the win last week, I expect Mariners to run away with this match and was tired of tipping 2-1 victories.

Sydney FC v Wellington Phoenix  –  Sunday 6 April  5:00pm  Allianz Stadium

Sydney will know the results of other matches going into this fixture, which may or may not factor into their performance here. With their fate well within their own hands, they know a victory here against the fading Phoenix will go a long way toward securing a finals position, with the possibility of a home final also potentially on the line. They have not won in three games, but have also managed draws at home to Brisbane and away to Melbourne Victory, showing some form against potential finals opponents.

Wellington without the prospect of finals football will be looking to spoil the party here for Sydney, but will need to overturn some horror recent away form that has seen them go 0 wins, 1 draw and 2 losses and concede 12 goals.

Stats fo yo ass!

  • Forgetting recent form, the Phoenix have travelled fairly well for a team currently third-last – 4W 2D 7L with notable victories over the Wanderers, Mariners and Newcastle, leaving them ranked 4th on away form.
  • However, Sydney are strong at home – 7W 1D 4L. THey also won 8 of their last 9 games playing host to Wellington
  • Both Wellington and Sydney have conceded at least one goal in their last 9 games
  • Evidence from previous fixtures in this years competition are mixed – Sydney won 2-1 at home on 23 November but lost 4 rounds later 1-0 at Wellington

Prediction:

Sydney 3-1

Why not?! A whopping 40% of Wellington’s games this year have registered more than 3.5 goals.