A-League round seven preview panel


FRIDAY, Nov 22

Western Sydney Wanderers v Melbourne City at Bankwest Stadium, 7.30pm

Head to head: Wanderers 11, City 6, drawn 4

Last clash: Round 23, 2018-19 - Wanderers 3-0 at ANZ Stadium

Western Sydney's miserly defence hosts the best attack in the comp, headed by red-hot City marksman Jamie Maclaren. How the league-leading visitors respond to last week's late meltdown loss to Brisbane will be an intriguing element at Bankwest Stadium, where Markus Babbel's team have looked the goods so far. Promisingly for the third-placed Wanderers, goalkeeper Daniel Lopar sits on a standout 81 per cent save rate.

Key: Maclaren - The Golden Boot leader needs two more goals to join Besart Berisha on 12 career strikes against the Wanderers - an A-League record.

Tip: Draw


Wellington Phoenix v Brisbane Roar at Westpac Stadium, 5pm

Head to head: Roar 19, Phoenix 7, drawn 10

Last clash: Round 25, 2018-19 - Roar 2-1 at Suncorp Stadium

Winless Wellington will need to assess the fitness of five players returning from All Whites duty in Europe but should get fit-again English striker Gary Hooper back as they chase a first win. A last-start draw with Melbourne Victory will have instilled confidence although they're now three points adrift of the field. Brisbane grabbed their first three-pointer last week via the thrilling comeback against leaders Melbourne City.

Key: Roy O'Donovan - Brisbane are hoping the Irish striker's second A-League hat-trick last week has broken open their scoring shackles under Robbie Fowler.

Tip: Phoenix

Adelaide United v Melbourne Victory at Coopers Stadium, 7.30pm

Head to head: Victory 25, Adelaide 14, drawn 10

Last clash: Round 26, 2018-19 - Adelaide 1-0 at Coopers Stadium

Five internationals - including Andrew Nabbout - return to the fray for the beleaguered Victory whose reliance on Ola Toivonen for goals and goal creation is reaching worrying levels. Adelaide are riding high on three straight wins although there may be some impact from the midweek bombshell that star forward Riley McGree has copped a five-month international ban for his involvement in the murky Olyroos off-field incident in Cambodia. McGree is still available for A-League selection though.

Key: Michael Maria - The Curacaoan showcased his creativity when shifted from centre of Adelaide's midfield to the left against Central Coast. Two of the five big chances he generated resulted in goals.

Tip: Adelaide

Perth Glory v Sydney FC at HBF Park, 9.45pm

Head to head: Sydney 26, Glory 9, drawn 9

Last clash: Grand final, 2018-19 - Sydney 4-1 on penalties (0-0) at Optus Stadium

Six months on from grand final heartbreak, Perth won't have forgotten their penalty shootout loss to the Sky Blues. New signing Bruno Fornaroli's sharpness for Glory means it's less likely there will be another 0-0 stalemate at fulltime but they'll be wary of a Sydney side currently looking the most fluent attacking outfit in the league. Perth haven't won on home soil this season and have tasted defeat in 11 of their last 12 against Sydney.

Key: It's hard to identify a more influential midfielder last week than Sydney's Brandon O'Neill in the Big Blue. He won't want to let up against his former club.

Tip: Draw

SUNDAY, Nov 24

Central Coast Mariners v Western United at Central Coast Stadium, 6pm

Head to head: never played

Last clash: never played

The competition new boys play their first-ever game in NSW and Mark Rudan will be desperate for Western United to end the pattern from their last four games of conceding an early goal. They've won their first two matches on the road and will fancy their chances against a Mariners side who have notched an unwanted A-League record - having gone 38 successive games without keeping a clean sheet.

Key: Jair - The Mariners need goals to make up for their consistently unreliable defence and the midweek signing of the Brazilian forward should help their cause.

Tip: Western United

BYE: Newcastle Jets