As temperatures rise across the nation, the heat is increasing on three of the A-League’s struggling teams’ coaches including Victory’s Marco Kurz, Brisbane Roar’s Robbie Fowler and the coach whose position is probably most vulnerable at the moment, Markus Babbel at Western Sydney Wanderers.
In contrast to the other two, Babbel has been in charge of an under performing team for longer than just this season, and the fans’ patience may be wearing thin. The Roar has the bye this week so there may be some relief from the scrutiny of fans for Fowler.
Round 11 kicks off with a Friday night fixture in Parramatta where seventh placed Wanderers host third placed Western United.
Saturday’s matches kick off in Wellington.
Wellington Phoenix v Sydney FC, Sat 21st Dec, Westpac Stadium, 2.45 pm
Phoenix is unbeaten in their last five and got the better of a 10 man Victory last week but was frustrated in a scoreless draw. It’ll confront a much more potent attacking unit in league leaders Sydney FC, who have won their last six straight. Part of that potent attack is a former Phoenix favourite, son Kosta Barbarouses.
Defensive midfielder Alex Rufer returns from injury for the home team and he’ll have the difficult job of trying to contain the influence of Sydney playmakers Milos Ninkovic and Alex Baumjohann. The two sides last met in round three when Sydney ran out 2-1 winners at home. Phoenix had full back Liberato Cacace sent off late in the match when they trailed. They were also without Gary Hooper and Reno Piscopo.
Tip: An improved Phoenix to upset the League Leaders.
Melbourne City v Melbourne Victory, Sat 21st Dec, AAMI Park, 5.00 pm
These two last met in the opening round of the season in a scoreless draw. Since then both defences have conceded the same number of goals (14), something which City’s coach acknowledges is a concern. The difference is in the goals scored with City more than doubling Victory’s tally for the season. Jamie MacLaren scored his 10th of the season in last week’s 4-0 crushing of the Jets. Victory’s experienced German defender Tim Hoogland is available for selection for the first time this season. They will be without the services of another import Kristijan Dobras who is suspended.
Tip: Melbourne City win
Perth Glory v Newcastle Jets, Sat 21st Dec, HBF Park, 7.30 pm
The Jets have the difficult task of visiting a resurgent Perth Glory whose second win on the trot lifted it to 5th spot on the ladder. The Jets will have to do so without central defender Nigel Boogaard out for two weeks with a groin injury. Coach Ernie Merricks will be expecting a response from the Jets after their 4-0 drubbing last week, but even so it’s difficult to see them get anything from this game.
Tip: Perth Glory win
Central Coast Mariners v Adelaide United, Sun 22nd Dec, Central Coast Stadium, 6.00 pm
Bottom of the table Mariners showed they were a competitive unit in last week’s 1-0 loss to league leader Sydney FC. They host fourth placed Adelaide United who are coming off a bye last week. The Reds will be without leading scorer Riley McGree, but striker Kristian Opseth returns to the squad from injury. They go into the match as favourites having won 3-1 at the same venue when they last met just over a month ago. The Mariners continue to struggle to score goals. Fans will be hoping that their new recruit Jair can provide a solution to their goal scoring problems. Forward Tommy Oar also returns to the squad this week.
Tip: Adelaide United win