You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

A-League round-12 preview panel

AAP logoAAP 22/12/2016

Preview of A-League round-12 matches (all times AEDT):

FRIDAY, Dec 23

Brisbane v Western Sydney at Suncorp Stadium 7.50pm

Head to Head: Roar 6 Wanderers 7 drawn 3

Last clash: Round 8 2016-17 - Wanderers 1 drew Roar 1 at Spotless Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Roar $1.92 Wanderers $3.75 Draw $3.50

The Roar are unbeaten in their past nine matches, their quality performances rewarded by a string of positive results. The Wanderers are playing well - or so their coach maintains - but have tasted victory only once during that same period, and it's unlikely they'll break through for another here. Brisbane are a formidable side at home and look in sensational touch following back-to-back wins over Central Coast and Adelaide, while Jamie Maclaren has scored in each of his past four games. They need to keep winning to stay in touch with ladder leaders Sydney FC, and it'll take Western Sydney's best effort of the season to stop them.

Key: Midfield metronome Thomas Kristensen didn't play against the Wanderers last time around but has been arguably Brisbane's best player over the past month.

Tip: Brisbane

MONDAY, Dec 26

Newcastle v Wellington at McDonald Jones Stadium 5.35pm

Head to Head: Jets 9 Phoenix 16 drawn 4

Last clash: Round 5 2016-17 - Phoenix 2 bt Jets 0 at Westpac Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Jets $2.20 Phoenix $3.00 Draw $3.50

Savaged by injury and down in the dumps, Newcastle were in disarray only a couple of weeks ago. Now they're in fifth spot and aiming for their third win on the trot. It's funny how quickly things change in the A-League, but the Jets certainly won't mind. With striker Aleksandr Kokko due back from injury, most of their stars are on deck and an opportunity to build a platform for the season beckons. The Phoenix, meanwhile, held Western Sydney to a 2-2 draw last week and haven't lost since coach Ernie Merrick's resignation, although a decision on a successor is said to be imminent.

Key: Andrew Nabbout has gone from A-League discard to genuine and consistent attacking threat. If he's on, so are Newcastle.

Tip: Jets

Adelaide United v Sydney FC at Coopers Stadium 7.50pm

Head to Head: Reds 17 Sydney 13 drawn 7

Last clash: Round 8 2016-17 - Sydney 0 drew Reds 0 at Allianz Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Reds $3.50 Sydney $2.00 Draw $3.50

Can table-topping Sydney keep daylight between them and the chasing pack? Claim a ninth win of the season and the unbeaten Sky Blues will, at the very least, maintain their seven-point lead on Melbourne Victory and Brisbane. Based on their 4-1 shellacking of Perth last weekend, Sydney should make light work of Guillermo Amor's spluttering defending champions, in last place with one win and six points after last weekend's 2-1 loss to Newcastle. Sky Blues midfielder Josh Brillante and striker Matt Simon return from suspension, while Reds defender Michael Marrone is knocking on the door after a long recovery from a ruptured achilles suffered during May's grand-final triumph.

Key: Milos Ninkovic. The Johnny Warren Medal contender has five goals and five assists this season and will be more ruthless than the Jets were against a leaky Reds defence.

Tip: Sydney

TUESDAY, Dec 27

Melbourne City v Perth at AAMI Park 7.50pm

Head to Head: City 6 Glory 9 drawn 6

Last clash: Round 3 2016-17 - Glory 3 bt City 2 at AAMI Park

Tab Sportsbet: City $1.57 Glory $6.00 Draw $3.75

Much has been made of Perth's rotten form but, whisper it, City's form isn't much better. The only win John van 't Schip's side have mustered in the past month has been at home to Wellington and they haven't kept a clean sheet since the opening weekend. But revenge is a powerful motivator and City could use it to their benefit on Tuesday. An Andy Keogh hat-trick won this fixture in round three and it still sticks in the club's craw. Osama Malik and Michael Jakobsen are likely absentees. For Perth, much centres on high-profile recruit Rhys Williams. Rumours of his departure are circling: is his heart in it?

Key: Bruno Fornaroli. The Uruguayan is a barometer for City's fortunes and has left his shooting boots at home recently. If he fires, City are a different side.

Tip: Draw

WEDNESDAY, Dec 28

Melbourne Victory v Central Coast at AAMI Park 7.50pm

Head to Head: Victory 16 Mariners 9 drawn 9

Last clash: Round 22 2015-16 - Victory 2 bt Mariners 0 at Central Coast Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Victory $1.25 Mariners $11.00 Draw $6.00

Cock-a-hoop and top of Melbourne once more, Kevin Muscat's side have their eyes fixed on Sydney FC and will set about maintaining the pressure when Central Coast come to town. On paper, the visit of the Mariners should be a mere formality - Victory have won seven of the past eight meetings between the pair. Should league-best goalscorer Besart Berisha or league best assist-maker Marco Rojas turn up to AAMI Park, Victory should have too much firepower. But then again, Mariners boss Paul Okon has certainly seen a number of fine Mariners performances fail to be rewarded with points and perhaps the wheel of fortune could turn their way in Melbourne.

Key: Will Victory old boy Connor Pain lift just a little against his old side? Pain has been in top form this season and could cause trouble.

Tip: Victory

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon