The big A-League news in the aftermath of last round’s eye popping 8-2 Mariner’s loss to Phoenix was coach Mike Mulvey’s dismissal and his replacement by another recently dismissed coach, former Matilda’s boss Alen Stajcic.
Meanwhile in midweek, Asian Champions League action, two of the A-League’s finest continue to struggle on the Champions League stage, with both Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC falling to Japanese clubs on foreign soil.
With six rounds of the A-League remaining there’s plenty to play for. Round 22 kicks off in Adelaide with a top six clash.
Adelaide United v Perth Glory, Frid 15 March, 7.50 pm Coopers Stadium
There’s a fair bit at stake for each of these teams. Fifth placed United will be keen to break a four match winless streak, especially with the Jets closing making a strong bid to break into the top six. The Reds face a tough task against league leader Glory which will also be keen to get back to winning ways following two draws in their last two outings. Both these teams rested last weekend and that’s given the Reds a chance to recall key players Nikola Mileusnic and defender Michael Jakobsen from injury. The Reds have also named young forward Apostolos Stamatelopoulos in their squad as he continues to be the subject of transfer speculation to Western United.
Newcastle Jets v Central Coast Mariners Sat 16 March, 5.35 pm, McDonald Jones Stadium
Central Coast Mariners under new coach Stajcic face an uphill battle in the F3 derby against an in form Jets making a determined late surge for a finals spot. Nevertheless, Ernie Merrick’s men won’t be taking the Mariners for granted. He’ll be forced to make some changes to the team which beat Victory 2-0 at their last start after losing Koutroumbis, Vujic and Champness to Olyroo duty. However they regain Ronny Vargas from injury. Kosta Petratos also joins his brother Dimi in the Jets squad.
Melbourne Victory V Brisbane Roar Sat 16 March, 7.50 pm Marvel Stadium
Third placed Victory will be trying to break a four match winless streak and within reach of a top two finish. It comes up against a Roar team which has little other than pride to play for. Roar’s defence has been leaking goals in recent matches. Victory will be strengthened in both attack and defence with the return of striker Ola Toivonen and defender Georg Nedemeier. Skipper Carl Valeri also returns from injury whilst young defender Anthony Lesiotis is also named in the squad.
Wellington Phoenix v Western Sydney Wanderers Sun 17 Match, 5.00 pm, Westpac Stadium
Phoenix leap frogged into the top four with last weekend’s crushing defeat of the Mariners. They’ll be keen to consolidate with another good result but they face an in-form Wanderers outfit which has three wins from its last four starts, reigniting faint hopes of a top six finish.
Phoenix will miss suspended winger Sarpreet Singh whilst the Wanderers will be without a trio of players on Olyroos duty including Tass Mourdoukoutos. This gives another youngster, Andrea Agamemnonos the chance to step into the senior squad. Wanderers also recall playmaker Alex Baumjohann after he was dropped at the last outing.
Sydney FC v Melbourne City FC Sun 17 March, 7.00 pm Leichhardt Oval
Another top six clash closes out the round. Second placed Sydney will go into the match as favourites based on recent form and a tilt at the Premiers’ Plate to spur them on. Warren Joyce’s City will be desperate to get back on the winning track following six matches without a win which has seen them slip to the bottom of the top six, with the Jets closing in fast.
City’s defence will be bolstered by the return of Ritchie De Laet and Bart Shenkveld from suspension whilst forwards Harrison Delbridge and Dario Vidosic also return.