First meets third in the A-League this weekend, when Wellington Phoenix host Sydney. The Phoenix has risen from the ashes so to speak, and they look a shadow of the struggling team they recently were. They’ve only dropped two of their last 15 games and both of those came away from Westpac Stadium.
Second placed Perth are the only side to have left Wellington with all three points this season, although several sides have taken a point. No one in the league has been as successful as Sydney on the road this season, remaining unbeaten and winning their last four.
They’ve managed two or more goals away from home on numerous occassions, and they’re the scorers 16 in their last five road games alone. That’s emphatic form and should make for an entertaining game here.
Despite being winners of four straight, Wellington have conceded an average of a goal a game. That’s in keeping with their season, having let in 25 in 21 games. It’s not bad at all, and it’s good enough for the best defensive record in the league.
However, as a team that generally doesn’t keep a clean sheet, Sydney will be a real threat. The visitors themselves have let in 30 in 22, but have often outscored their opponents, and these sides have netted 81 goals between them.
With Sydney games averaging 3.18 goals per game, and Wellington games averaging 3.00, I can’t see anything other than an end-to-end game with plenty of goals here.
The other game of interest to me is Adelaide and Newcastle. Newcastle has home advantage in this one, but that hasn’t done too much for them this season. They have a 1-4-5 record at home, and although they’re not the only team that’s currently cut off from the rest, they look like they belong at the bottom.
They’ve shown signs of life in remaining unbeaten in four of six, and last weeks win against Western Sydney pulled the two teams level on points. A loss would have sealed their fate, but either way, this is a team playing for pride.
The Jets will not have forgotten that Adelaide beat them 7-0 just two months ago, but with the opportunity to go third in the A-League ladder, I don’t think Adelaide will get carried away with that result. They’ll want to take their opportunity here.