What a game this is shaping up to be. The Roar keep winning but they don't necessarily look invulnerable. A surprise home defeat to Adelaide last month was followed by a battling draw away to Glory. Since then, they have twice come from behind to beat Wellington Phoenix and the Central Coast Mariners 2-1 at Suncorp Stadium. Mike Mulvey's side have what it takes to win when they're not at their best, but a trip to Western Sydney is a significant challenge indeed. It was away to the Wanderers in the semi-finals last season when the Roar's title defence came to an end, and Tony Popovic's side will not want to let the Queenslanders open up a 10-point gap between first and second place. They have their own form to worry about however, after failing to convince in a 2-2 draw away to the Newcastle Jets on Saturday.
2. Much-changed Mariners host recovering Victory
Only three players from Central Coast's grand final starting XI lined-up against Brisbane Roar in Round 17. Trent Sainsbury moving to PEC Zwolle and Daniel McBreen's return to Shanghai SIPG were the latest departures, leaving Phil Moss with a very different team from the one Graham Arnold led to major honours last season. With so many key players having moved on, do they still have what it takes to make an impression on the finals? On Saturday they face a Victory team without a win in their last three matches. But having been thumped 5-0 twice in succession by Wellington Phoenix and Sydney FC, a 1-1 draw away to Perth Glory last time out was a considerably improved result. Another tough test on the road awaits Kevin Muscat's men. Can they get back on track on Bluetongue Stadium? Despite the Mariners' upheavals, winning in Gosford remains a big ask.
3. Where to next for the unpredictable Sky Blues?
Some of us were fooled into thinking a thumping 5-0 win over Melbourne Victory two weeks ago would prove to be a turning point for Sydney FC following a slump of five matches without a win. But back in Victoria less than a week later and Frank Farina's side struggled to impose themselves on a 10-man Melbourne Heart whose confidence is surely still fragile after their nightmare first half of the season. David Williams' brilliant late solo effort inflicted what was a fifth defeat in seven games on the Sky Blues, and they must now square up against an Adelaide team determined to bounce from a first defeat in eight games, suffered away to Wellington. Farina is not alone in wondering which Sydney will turn up.
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4. Will the country air help Heart's revival?
So it's now seven points from a possible nine for the previously hapless Heart, who look a different side from the one John van 't Schip inherited during the final days of a grim 2013. The doggedness and determination shown to come back from a goal down with 10 men and fight all the way until nabbing a late winner would have been unheard of during the dark days late in John Aloisi's reign. This week Heart host Perth Glory in Albury, with the Laverton Sports Ground an unknown quantity for both teams. The Glory generally don't travel well, but perhaps the unfamiliarity of the location to both teams will favour Kenny Lowe's side.
5. All eyes on in-form Taggart
Having given up the lead to trail 2-1, the Jets showed plenty of grit to earn a point off Western Sydney at Hunter Stadium on Saturday, with Adam Taggart scoring both of the home team's goals. Wellington Phoenix are likely to offer a different sort of challenge to the Wanderers - expect Ernie Merrick to send his players out to attack, and that could play into the hands of the Jets, who struggled at times to break down a stubborn Western Sydney. If the visitors from New Zealand leave space at the back, Taggart is more than capable of exploiting it. A few more impressive performances and the clamour will grow for the 20-year-old to be considered as a potential inclusion in the Socceroos' World Cup squad.