Two teams on the improve will finish things off for us in Round 19.
Western Sydney, with two wins in their past three games, are now into the top six and starting to look like the contenders many pictured them to be at the start of the season. They go into this having beaten the Phoenix in New Zealand 3-1.
Central Coast are aiming for a hat-trick of wins as they head to Spotless after disposing of Perth and then Adelaide last week.
RED AND BLACK ATTACK
It appears as though something is starting to click with the Wanderers.
After going two months with just a solitary win, Tony Popovic’s men now have two wins in the past three weeks while the only blip was a last minute goal to Brisbane which cost them a share of the points.
Delve deeper into their performances of recent weeks and you’ll see that there is plenty of merit in them. The 2-0 win over Newcastle, who are one of the form teams of the comp, is the only time in the last nine rounds that the Jets hadn’t scored two goals or more.
Then the Wanderers went to New Zealand and took all three points an that is never an easy thing to do.
Paul Okon has done an outstanding job with the Mariners who now have more points (16) than they did in the entire 2015/16 campaign (15).
The Mariners coach, however, wouldn’t be just satisfied with that as he now has ambitions of scraping into the top six with his side five points behind the Wanderers who currently occupy that spot.
Their 2-1 win over Adelaide was thoroughly deserved but with the amount of chances they squandered in front of goal, they can also count themselves fortunate to get the win as Adelaide were pressing hard at the end.
While Central Coast have improved if they have ambitions of playing finals then they must take advantage of any chances that come their way.
HOW IT PANS OUT
The Wanderers have found form and one of their key men will be Nico Martinez.
Martinez has been one of Western Sydney’s best players and the way he dictates the play in midfield suggests he will be a handful once again for the Mariners.
The threat from the visitors could come in the shape of Kwabena Appiah-Kubi who scored the winner for Central Coast last week. Scoring his first goal in 50-odd A-league games, he showed blistering speed down the flank before crossing it into the box, and then following up to get the back pass, to bang it into the back of the net.
While it was one play there was definitely a bit of x-factor about it and if he can reproduce a similar display here then the Wanderers could be in for a busy night.
We just get the feeling the Wanderers are coming good at the right time.
Their stats at home have been terrible with just one win all season, however, they did beat Newcastle at their previous ‘home’ game which was actually played at Campbelltown Stadium .
Popovic elected to give new recruits Ryan Griffiths, especially the latter, some game time which suggests that the pair could be regulars in the back end of the season. Players of their class, especially with A-league experience, could prove invaluable for the Wanderers as they aim up for another finals tilt.
Even though Central Coast go into this with consecutive wins it has to be said that those were as the home team.
Their form on the road hasn’t been the best with just four points to show from their nine outings.
That is surely going to leave them exposed for a Western Sydney barrage especially when you consider the Mariners have been outscored 10-2 in their past four away fixtures.
Throw in the fact that WSW have won four of their past five clashes against Central Coast, with the other result being a draw, and all the signs point to a happy homecoming.
THE TIP: WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS
TOTAL GOALS OVER/UNDER 3.5: OVER 3.5 GOALS
1st GOALSCORER: BRENDON SANTALAB – the Wanderers key attacker racked up a double on the weekend, taking his season total to eight in the process.