1. An immediate test of Wellington's credentials
There's nothing like a 5-0 thrashing of powerhouse Melbourne Victory to make everyone else sit up and take notice. All eyes are now on Ernie Merrick and his Kiwi outfit, but games don't come much harder at the moment than a trip to Queensland to face Brisbane Roar. Mike Mulvey's league leaders lost last time out at home, going down 2-1 to Adelaide, and followed that up with a hard-fought 0-0 draw away to Perth Glory. The Roar have had a player sent off in each of those games, and they will be determined to keep 11 men on the field and record all three points to get their title challenge back on track this week. It's up to the Phoenix to try and stop them, and finding out if they have what it takes to do so is sure to make for an intriguing contest.
2. Will Melbourne Heart make it two in a row?
John van 't Schip's men finally ended their long winless streak last Friday, but they now face a daunting trip to take on the competition's form team, Adelaide United. Josep Gombau's side are enjoying their best period of the season so far, rocketing up the table and well into finals contention. They will hope to dominate possession and cause far more problems at the back than a lacklustre Jets outfit did at AAMI Park. Does the Heart defence have what it takes to repel a more organised attacking unit? All previous evidence accumulated this term would suggest not, but now is as good a time as any for the team in red and white to start proving the (justified) doubters wrong.
3. A new chapter for Newcastle Jets
Gary van Egmond's sacking was announced on Monday morning, three days after watching his players become the first team to lose to Melbourne Heart since February last year. The embarrassment of being that club is not enough on its own to explain the decision to make a change at the top. The Jets have plenty of promising young talent and a few good experienced players, but Van Egmond has been unable to mould them into a consistent outfit, and they have continually missed out on a place in the post-season reckoning in recent season. It remains to be seen what impact caretaker coach Clayton Zane can have in the second half of the campaign, and he has a tough assignment first up, taking on the reigning champions Central Coast Mariners in the F3 derby.
4. Plenty at stake in the 'Big Blue'
No match between Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC is ever anything less than keenly contested, but there will more riding on Sunday's clash at Etihad Stadium than usual. Frank Farina's Sky Blues went down 1-0 at home to the Mariners on Saturday and are now without a win in five matches. Victory meanwhile suffered their worst result of the season, a 5-0 thrashing away to Wellington, and need to get back on track in emphatic fashion if they are to cling on to increasingly slim hopes of a top-two finish. The possibility of Tom Rogic joining Victory on loan in time to feature in the clash would provide added interest.
5. Wanderers need a win to close in on Brisbane.
Tony Popovic's side have been through a tough patch of late, losing three of their last four games. In doing so, they have missed a good opportunity to catch Brisbane at the top of the table, with the Roar losing at home and drawing away to drop five of the last six available points. If the Queensland team's past form this term is anything to go by, the chasing pack may not receive a more presentable opportunity to make up ground. Heavy rotation and the introduction of some callow teenagers by Popovic has raised eyebrows and provided ammunition for critics of the Western Sydney coach. It's time for the previously grinding, consistent Wanderers to get back to doing what they do best, with the Glory in the firing line.
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