The Melbourne Victory hosts the Queensland Roar tonight, in what is a critical juncture of the A-League season.
The Roar sit on equal points with Melbourne, but edge us out on goal difference. A win tonight for either side would go a long way to ensuring their finals aspirations.
The Central Coast Mariners have already played their game this round, beating the Perth Glory 1-0 on New Year’s Eve. That’s put the Mariners at the top of the table temporarily, but that’s unlikely to remain so, with Adelaide United, Queensland and Melbourne all able to overtake the Mariners.
Ernie Merrick indicated that he plans to do very little to change the squad that overcame Sydney FC last week, suggesting that Grant Brebner and Jose Luis Lopez may once again have to watch from the sidelines. Surely it is a sign of the depth of Melbourne’s squad that a hero from season 2 and a Costa Rican international are unable to make it into the squad?
The pitch is a cause for concern, as the Telstra Dome was used for New Year’s Eve festivities. The club and Dome are apparently clashing heads over it. Ernie Merrick even said: “As coach of Melbourne Victory, I find working with Telstra Dome management and preparing for a game is very difficult. That’s all I’ll say at this stage.” Enough said Ernie. We know what you mean. Telstra Dome are pains in the arses.
My tips for the weekend:
- Melbourne to shatter Queensland: Maybe not by much – Queensland have a strong defence – but if Melbourne play with the intensity they had against Sydney FC, they can win this.
- Adelaide United to beat Sydney FC: Only the bravest of punters would tip otherwise at the moment. Adelaide are riding high at the top of the table, while Sydney are tumbling down. I expect the trend to continue.
- Wellington Phoenix to beat Newcastle Jets: I suppose I could have saved time and just said I expect the home teams to win this weekend. Newcastle have nothing but pride left to play for, while a win for Wellington is essential for the finals chances.