Mid-week action saw success for Melbourne Victory in Japan when they qualified for the Asian Champions League group stage by defeating J-League club Kashima Antlers 1-0 thanks to a wonderful Andrew Nabbout strike. The win, which given Victory’s recent form surprised many, was a feather in the cap for recently appointed coach Carlos Salvachua.
Last week’s round of matches produced a seven goal thriller between Western United and Adelaide United at the E J Whitten Oval, with Adelaide striker Nathan Konstandopoulos coming off the bench to score a stunning winning goal.
Phoenix has the bye this week, whilst it is Brisbane’s turn to take on the mighty Sydney FC in a Friday night fixture.
Saturday’s triple header begins in Newcastle.
Newcastle Jets (11th) v Western United (6th): Sat 1 Feb at 5.00 pm, McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
The struggling Jets were unlucky not to come away from Wellington last round with a point at least. This week they host Western United who are battling to retain their place in the top six at present. The Jets’ marquee, veteran midfielder Wes Hoolahan could be in line to make a debut and provide them with more attacking options. The loss of veteran keeper Glen Moss to injury is a blow to the Jets who’ll have to find a way of preventing in form Western United striker Besart Berisha adding to his tally this season. Midfielder Max Burgess has also been in good form recently for Western United.
The Jets won their last meeting this season 1-0 thanks to an Angus Thurgate winner and some crucial Glen Moss saves.
Prediction: Western United win
Adelaide United (5th) v Melbourne City (2nd): Sat 1 Feb at 7.30 pm, Coopers Stadium, Adelaide
United will be hoping to extend their recent two match winning streak. Nikola Mileusnic is in good form in front of goal, and Riley McGree has a nose for goal. However they’ll miss Olyroos striker Al–Hassan Toure through injury. City’s squad will be boosted by the return of a quartet of players fresh from the Olyroos’ successful qualification for the Olympics. City won the last meeting between these two thanks to a Jamie MacLaren brace and together with new Spanish signing, playmaker Markel Susaeta, they may prove a handful for the Reds defence.
Prediction: Melbourne City win
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Perth Glory (3rd) v Melbourne Victory (8th): Sat 1 Feb at 9.45 pm, HBF Park, Perth
Victory will have to produce another excellent performance to stop Glory taking the points here, which appears a tall order given it will be Victory’s fourth match in 11 days which included a trip to Japan. Still, they can look forward to new signing Marco Rojas helping them, and the return of defenders James Donachie and Tim Hoogland. Glory will also be boosted by the inclusion of Chris Ikonomidis and Olyroo star Nicholas D’Agostino. New signing Tarak Elrich is also named in the Glory squad. In their previous meeting this season, a Robbie Kruse goal decided the match in Victory’s favour before Glory embarked on their current seven match unbeaten run.
Prediction: Perth Glory win
Central Coast Mariners (10th) v Western Sydney (9th): Sun 2 Feb at 4.00 pm, Central Coast Stadium, Gosford
A bottom of the table clash closes out the round in what will be Wanderer’s caretaker coach Jean Paul De Marigny’s first match in charge following last week’s bye. The Mariners were unlucky to lose to a late Brisbane goal last week, but they continue to struggle to find an end product to all their endeavours. The Wanderers’ squad should be strengthened by the return of Olyroos midfielder Keanu Baccus and defender Tass Mourdoukoutas, as well as a new signing from the UK, striker Simon Cox.