Heya. Can you believe this is the last round of the regular season? We are still going to be absolutely blessed with an extra game tagged onto the end of the season, as the thundered off game of Canberra against Victory is to be played after round 14 on Tuesday. That’s like getting Christmas presents on Boxing Day. But for this weekend, we bid farewell to the regular season. How these 14 weeks have flown by, I just don’t understand. But here we are.
Just because we are 14 weeks deep, and at the end of the season, doesn’t mean predictions are any any easier to come by. A bit like a reverse park really? In the way that every time I try my weekly reverse park, with a “yeah, I can totally do that, watch me”, an attempt, to then realise “oh boy, this isn’t great”, and find myself at a weird angle and definitely not living by the regulation space between my car and the kerb, is how we still wind up every week after Prediction Thursday. Sometimes we are ok enough to the kerb to stay in the car space and brag about how we got “some of the matches right”, while other weeks we are still at a right angle and decide to walk away from the mess your earlier self decided to get you in.
Sydney FC v Melbourne City
I want pay back. I want to see Sydney give City the sort of payback that goes along with the wounded ego of being thrashed by them WAY back in round two. Justice for a match in which Sydney were exposed down the flanks, but could’ve changed the game on it’s head had Sydney been somewhat clinical in front of goal.
Ok, alright, so maybe things have changed a lot since these two sides last met. But this has to still be the blockbuster we are all hoping for right? Whilst I’m sitting here comfortably saying “City are out, look at that goal difference. No chance. I’ll run around the street naked if they get through”, I’ll also take that bet off the table, because Spencer has brought it against Sydney before. Add in the young American in Mace and it could be a whirlwind event.
I’m hoping bruised ego come us trumps here. Sydney have shifted in recent weeks in how they approach games. Rather control the play at the top of the field, giving the other team ample opportunity to organise and soak in the pressure like those super old sponges still hanging around the kitchen, they’re working the transitions. These transitions into attack have been looking mint lately. This is going to hopefully work right into the hands of getting that big victory against City. You see, City will be happy to move the ball around, holding possession and largely controlling play. This will look nice, but unless they really expose Sydney’s flanks again, will only mean they play right into Sydney’s hands.
It’s gonna be a thriller and will see out Thursday night footy with the bang we all deserve.
Prediction: Sydney FC 4 – 1 Melbourne City
Adelaide United v Brisbane Roar
The hope that this would be an edge of your seat, thriller, fight for your life, hunger-games style game, which it looked like at round 10, is no longer. Instead Adelaide are playing for the pride of a stellar season, yet like the donkey with a carrot on the stick, so close yet so very far to that top four spot. Meanwhile Brisbane are fighting for the potential of another Premiership trophy. Surely their trophy room is looking overstocked by now and they need to let someone else have a try? Oh well, them’s the reality.
Perhaps the downfall of Adelaide’s backend of the season is having them be the side expected to set the tempo and pace of the game. This is a shift from the early season, where they could soak up the pressure and then counter. At their most successful, Adelaide are organised without the ball, and then release the ball through the middle of the park, usually Gunny, and push it out wide to then have it wind up in the path of Latsko. Against Brisbane, we might be able to get some of the vintage, early Adelaide. Why you might ask? Clearly Brisbane are favourites right? Well, Brisbane will be dictating play. They will be the side with possession, expected to win and threatening goal all game long. This means Adelaide won’t be tempted to lose their form quite as easily as when they have been chasing in recent weeks.
I mean sure, Brisbane have the talent to get through an organised Adelaide side. Raso is on fire right now, and it would take a brave woman to bet against any side with her energy leading the attack. However, based on the craziness of this season, Adelaide playing at home and deserving some nice things, as well as Brisbane playing a type of game that will suit Adelaide more, I’m going to back the underdog. Adelaide for the takings this week. And if not, let’s all grab a beer and congratulate them on a good season, wishing them well for the next.
Prediction: Adelaide United 2 – 1 Brisbane Roar
Perth Glory v Melbourne Victory
The wild west is ringing it’s head once again. A late night Friday beauty. Brilliant. Ok so, on paper, if this game was played without the time difference or travel, I would back Victory. Victory look in absolutely fine form. All around, they’re a squad who look very balanced across the field, with a defence capable of containing world class forwards and a front line able to produce a goal in a way I wish I could cook a dinner with an empty pantry, able to make something out of nothing.
Meanwhile, Perth are obviously like your finest china up front, nowhere near as fragile, but every bit as beautiful and worth protecting. After last weekend’s performance, where their midfield stood up and produced an absolute display, I should perhaps sing more of the praises of their midfield now? But I won’t, I still think there are a couple things that could be tightened up and fixed, where their biggest strength is their fight for the ball, however they don’t hold some of the technical finesse of some other midfields in the competition.
So if this was on paper, I’d give this to Victory. They’ve got players to contain Kerr and Hill well enough, and have players capable of breaking Glory apart. However this isn’t a game on paper.
The reality? Victory will be travelling, Perth are looking mighty fine at home and time difference isn’t an away sides friend. So who will win this game? Perth. It’ll be messy, Victory will come close. But Perth will pump the ball up in the 88th minute to Kerr, with the scores tied and Kerr will get the winner. And that my friends is how Kerr wins the golden boot.
Prediction: Perth Glory 3 – 2 Melbourne Victory
Newcastle Jets v Western Sydney Wanderers
Oh babies. We had high hopes at the start of the season didn’t we? Until kick off, but it’s the preseason thoughts and intentions that count right? But here’s a chance for the both of you to go into the off season a little chuffed by winning your last game yeah. Wouldn’t that be prize enough for either of these sides?
Honestly, the Jets should just forfeit this game. Not in a malicious way, or even to give the Wanderers a chance at securing another precious point or two. It’s because I can’t handle even the slight, SLIGHT chance of their injury list getting worse. They’ve had more than enough drama this season, like an overtired child, it’s time they got some rest. Somehow, they will put a starting XI on the pitch, even if they have to ask their reserve goalkeeper to play an on field position. Like any underdog, the Jets have really found their fight when the opportunity to get one up arises. With the youth they’re forced to play on the park, they’ve got pace to burn. Add in the solid rock triangle at the back of Davis, Brewer and Eckerstrom, with Wright somewhere on the park providing that experience and bit extra, they still look a solid side. A wounded side, but solid. Maybe it’s due to these injuries that the Jets have been able to get back to basics, defend and take the few opportunities provided. Would they play better or worse with their full squad? Who knows. But now they’ve got to show up one more time against the Wanderers.
Confidence. It’s all going to come down to confidence for the Wanderers. If they can find a quick early goal, there might be drinks Saturday night in Western Sydney. They’ve got the talent, they’ve even played some good, quality football against the best sides all season. However it’s the moments they stop putting up the fight and paying attention that comes to bite them hard. The Jets are a side who will utilise any moment of hesitation and lack of fight from the Wanderers, so it’s urgent the Wanderers can find a full 90 if they want to come out victors. And you know what? I’m going to back my noobs this one last time. I’m giving them the chance to let me down one more time yeah. Why will I back them? La’Bonta and Lowe are in fine form, why Ledbrook starts and isn’t a wonder sub still baffles me, but Halloway has looked pumped recently and could also be a real game changer. But really the reason I will back them is because I’m a bit hopeless, and just living on the edge by saying the Wanderers can find two wins this season. Please can they?
Prediction: Newcastle Jets 4 – 5 Western Sydney Wanderers