Week 22 of the A-League is also split across two weekends and there is plenty of exciting football set to take place.
The round gets underway in style when City and the Victory meet in another heated edition of the Melbourne Derby on Friday night, before the Jets host Sydney FC in a top of the table clash on Saturday.
The 26th edition of the Melbourne Derby will have a little extra spice as the third-placed City look to make it a harder lead-up to the finals for the fourth-placed Victory.
An ill-disciplined City were beaten by the lowly Glory in Perth last weekend and to add insult to injury, they will be without defender Bart Schenkeveld for this clash following his red carding. City have now lost two on the trot, but remain more than a win above their crosstown rivals in overall standings.
The Victory have been pretty disappointing since January, but they snapped a three-game losing streak with an easy 3-0 win over Adelaide United in Week 21. They were facing ten men from the 59th minute, but the score was already on the board by that point of the match and there can take plenty of positives away from the performance.
Regardless of form, this is always a great match and both clubs have notched a win in the two previous derbies this season. A draw looms as a potentially lucrative betting play.
We are set for an outstanding match when the second-placed Jets host league-leaders Sydney FC on Saturday afternoon.
The Jets managed to take all three points away from the in-form Roar in Brisbane last weekend and are on track for a home final; remaining eight points clear of Melbourne City in overall standings. They’re still the only team that looks like worrying Sydney and the result of this match will be a real indicator of their prospects on potentially the final day of the season.
Sydney were simply too good for the Wanderers in Week 21 and they enter this match eleven points clear of Newcastle on the ladder. The Sky Blues had just a four-day turnaround from a mid-week trip to China (and draw with the star-studded Shanghai Shenhua) ahead of their win in the Sydney Derby and they really are the benchmark leading into the finals.
Newcastle should be able to compete with the Sky Blues for most of this match, but it is simply too hard to tip against Graham Arnold’s men currently.
Saturday night’s match between the Roar and Adelaide United in Brisbane is potentially the most even contest on Matchday 22 of the A-League.
The Roar have found a good run of form at the right point of the season, but they will be looking to return to the winner’s stall here after finishing on the wrong end of a 1-0 score line against the Jets last weekend. Leading into that match, the Brisbane side had won three of four matches and worked their way into finals contention.
Adelaide’s form has been shaky to say the least – they’ve produced some good performances and results, but also dropped all the points to clubs at the bottom of the ladder. Their saving grace has probably been a lack of consistency that has also shown by several of their similarly-positioned rivals and leading into Week 22, they remain fifth in overall standings.
This is a great opportunity for both clubs to find winning form, but the Roar simply need the win more than Adelaide and represent value as warm favourites.
The need for the Wanderers and Perth to play a catch-up of their Round 7 match means that the final two matches in Week 22 will be played on Saturday, March 10th.
With the exception of last round’s loss to Sydney, the Wanderers have been pretty decent of late and are in the box seat to take the last position in this year’s finals. Wins over the Central Coast and Wellington and a draw with the Jets have meant that they are more than a win ahead of Brisbane in overall standings, and they have the perfect opportunity to take another big step towards the finals here.
The Phoenix are still anchored to the bottom of the table and look likely to remain there after a loss to the Mariners last week. Literally every match for the New Zealand-based club is a big challenge from here on in and it is tough seeing them take points from Western Sydney away from home.
Week 22 draws to a close when the Glory host the Central Coast in the nation’s west on the night of March 10th. Its been a torrid season for both clubs and there isn’t a lot for either to be playing for here, other than their pride.
Simply put, neither team has managed to string together a consistent run of results this season, but both will carry winning form into this fixture and it should therefore be a better match from a spectator’s perspective.
Given their competitive performance and win over Melbourne City most recently, the Glory can surely rally in front of their home fans and add another low-scoring win to their record.