With the A-League season almost done, the race to the finals has suddenly heated up once again.
The Newcastle Jets’ recent run of form and Melbourne City’s dip has seen the race for the six once again heat up.
As we close in on the end of the regular season we gaze into the crystal ball and see who makes up the final six.
Is it too early to say they have top spot sewn up?
In 21 games this season Tony Popovic’s men have only lost one game and look set to come away with their first minor premiership after what has been a near flawless season.
Their attacking trident of Andy Keogh, Diego Castro and Chris Ikonomidis has torn up defences – cementing themselves as the clear premiership favourites.
Their run home sees them take on four of the top six sides including tough away trips to Adelaide and Sydney but host the Melbourne Victory, Newcastle and Wellington in their final three home games.
Run home: Adelaide (A) Draw, Victory (H) Win, Mariners (A) Win, Newcastle (H) Win, Sydney (A) Loss, Wellington (H) Win
Predicted points: 13 points (61 points)
After a season of completely falling under the radar – Sydney FC have found themselves right in the mixer for a Premiership tilt.
Being the only side to defeat Perth this season carries enormous weight for the Sky Blues who themselves possess a potent attacking set-up which is still yet to unlock the potential of Reza Ghoochannejhad and are awaiting the return of injured Dutchman, Siem De Jong.
Steve Corica’s men face three of the bottom four sides on the road but host both Melbourne sides and Perth in quite a favourable run at home.
However, they still have to juggle an arduous Asian Champions League schedule which is intertwined in their final six games.
Clashes against the Victory and Glory shape up season defining if they want to lock a top two spot but also travel to take on the fast-finishing Jets on the final day.
Run home: Melbourne City (H) Draw, Brisbane (A) Win, Victory (H) Draw, Wanderers (A) Win, Perth (H) Win, Newcastle (A) Loss
Predicted points: 11 points (53 points)
The Victory find themselves in a bit of a lull heading into their final six games.
In all competitions, the Vuck have not won in their past six games which include two Asian Champions League clashes and a defeat against top spot Perth Glory at AAMI Park.
Their run home sees them having to hit the road four times with two of them coming against the Glory and Sydney in back to back away clashes.
But home games against both the Roar and Mariners who occupy the bottom two positions on the table should be customary wins for the Victory.
Although Asian Champions League duties may disturb their usual match preparation for A-League contests. They should still be able to navigate a route to a home final with their enormous squad depth carrying significant weight in those must-win clashes in the league.
Run home: Brisbane (H) Win, Perth (A) Loss, Sydney (A) Draw, Mariners (H) Win, Adelaide (A) Draw, Wanderers (A) Win
Predicted points: 11 points (49 points)
The fairy tale run of the Wellington Phoenix looks set to result in a first final in four years.
After a season where many thought they would once again finish outside the top six – Mark Rudan has admirably led the ‘Nix on an incredible voyage into the top four where they look all but set to play a prominent part in the finals series.
With a favourable run – including home games against Western Sydney, Newcastle and Melbourne City and a road trip to Brisbane – Mark Rudan’s team should be able to lock in a home final.
Their toughest clash comes against the first placed Perth on the road in the ‘Distance Derby’ which, depending on the Glory’s current table predicament, may be their only defeat along with a trip to take on their nearest table rival, Adelaide.
Run home: Wanderers (H) Draw, Jets (H) Win, Adelaide (A) Loss, Roar (A) Win, Melbourne City (H) Win, Perth (A) Loss
Predicted points: 10 points (41 points)
It has been an up and down season for Marco Kurz’s men who have been unable to string together consistent performances throughout the season.
After winning the FFA Cup back in November, Adelaide have been unable to string together a run of form which would have had them right among the competition’s top echelon.
The Reds haven’t won in their past four games but have winnable games against the Mariners and the Roar along with clashes against some of the competitions heavyweights in the Glory and the Victory.
They should be able lock in a finals spot but still a question mark remains whether they can achieve a home final in front of their raucous home support.
Run home: Glory (H) Draw, Mariners (A) Win, Wellington (H) Win, Melbourne City (A) Draw, Victory (H) Draw, Roar (A) Win
Predicted points: 9 points (40 points)
It has not been an easy season for Melbourne City supporters.
As of now, they are still inside the top six but have not won since January 22 and pressure continues to mount on Warren Joyce.
Their run home isn’t necessarily easy with home clashes against both Brisbane and Central Coast shaping up as must win.
However, they should be able to capitalise on their stubborn defence and the form of Jamie Maclaren against the likes of Sydney and Adelaide to at least get them into the promise land.
Although, it may just come down to goal-difference between them and Newcastle and the Jets may just edge them.
Run home: Sydney FC (A) Draw, Wanderers (A) Loss, Roar (H) Win, Adelaide (H) Draw, Phoenix (A) Loss, Mariners (H) Win
Predicted points: 8 points (38 points)
After a difficult start to the season, Newcastle are fit and firing as they look to close in on another finals birth.
It has been a fall from the lofty heights of hosting a Grand Final the season prior but their recent form has seen them go five unbeaten and start to close the gap on the top six.
Some huge clashes loom against Perth, Wellington and Sydney FC could make or break their season with the margin for error extremely minimal heading into the final six games.
They may fall agonisingly close with the Wanderers game potentially being the banana skin in catching the free-falling Melbourne City outfit.
However, they need goals and with their goal difference, goals scored and goals against all the same as City’s, they need goals in their wins which is likely and sees the Jets somehow slip into the six.
Run home: Mariners (H) Win, Phoenix (A) Loss, Wanderers (H) Win, Glory (A) Loss, Roar (A) Win, Sydney FC (H) Win
Predicted points: 12 points (38 points)
Western Sydney Wanderers
They couldn’t, could they?
After being faced with certain doom and gloom only weeks ago, the Wanderers have been on a mini surge as of late accumulating ten points from a possible 12 and suddenly find themselves as an extreme long-shot to make the finals.
Despite being under constant scrutiny the entire season, Markus Babbel’s recent turnaround has been incredible to witness as they have played spoiler to the likes of Perth and Adelaide.
They need to be almost flawless in their last six games and will need a lot to go their way in order to somehow get right back in the hunt.
However, we have seen stranger things in football before right?
Run home: Phoenix (A) Draw, Melbourne City (H) Win, Jets (A) Draw, Sydney FC (H) Loss, Mariners (A) Win, Victory (H) Loss
Predicted points: 8 points (28 points)
Their season is over and Roar fans would be ticking off the days until this season has come to an end.
After only three wins this season, it doesn’t seem likely that Darren Davies’ men will be adding to their total as they face five of the top six in their last six games along with the resurgent Newcastle Jets.
It seems like they may be facing an end to the season where they will be going without another point to add their miserly total of 15 points.
But letting the kids get a run isn’t the worst thing though, right?
Run home: Victory (A) Loss, Sydney FC (H), Loss, Melbourne City (A) Loss, Phoenix (H) Loss, Jets (H) Loss, Adelaide (H) Loss
Predicted points: 0 points (15 points)
Central Coast Mariners
Similar to that of Brisbane, they are completely lost at the moment.
After Mike Mulvey was given his marching orders, it is up to Alen Stajcic to try and rescue some points from what has been another disastrous season for Gosford faithful.
Clashes against Melbourne City (who are the only side they have beaten this season) and the F3 Derby this weekend along with a home clash against the Wanderers look like winnable contests.
However, it is going to be a tough ask to see them getting another victory but then again – teams have historically picked up under new managers so who knows what they might be able to achieve under ‘Staj’.
Run home: Jets (A) Loss, Adelaide (H) Loss, Glory (H) Loss, Victory (A) Loss, Wanderers (H) Loss, Melbourne City (H) Loss
Predicted points: 0 points (7 points)
- Perth Glory – 61
- Sydney FC – 53
- Melbourne Victory – 49
- Wellington Phoenix – 41
- Adelaide United – 40
- Newcastle Jets – 38
- Melbourne City – 38
- Western Sydney Wanderers – 28
- Brisbane Roar – 15
- Central Coast Mariners – 7
Finals Week One:
Melbourne Victory vs Newcastle Jets – AAMI Park
Wellington Phoenix vs Adelaide United – Westpac Stadium