FRIDAY, Dec 20
Brisbane Roar v Newcastle Jets at Suncorp Stadium 8.00pm
Head to Head: Roar 9 Jets 10 drawn 8
Last clash: Round 6 2013-2014 - Jets 2 bt Roar 1 at Hunter Stadium
Tab Sportsbet: Roar $1.53 Jets $5.65 Draw $4.00
The league-leading Roar head into this match having posted four straight wins and look well on track of avoiding a repeat of their last loss - a 2-1 upset to the Jets in round six. The Jets on the the other hand wasted a great opportunity to snatch second spot on the ladder after going down 1-0 to Western Sydney last week. But their depleted attacking stocks are likely to get a boost this week with Nathan Burns and Emile Heskey set to return. The Jets have proven they can win against strong teams away from home having defeated Victory 2-1. But getting three points at Suncorp Stadium against the tops dogs may be too big an ask.
Key: Adam Taggart. The young gun striker is currently equal top-scorer with six goals this season. If he's on form the Jets could well snatch an upset.
SATURDAY, Dec 21
Melbourne Heart v Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park 7.45pm
Head to Head: Heart 3 Victory 3 drawn 4
Last clash: Round 1 2013-2014 - Victory 0 drew Heart 0 at Etihad Stadium
Tab Sportsbet: Heart $4.00 Victory $1.82 Draw $3.55
The Heart come into the match still searching for their first win of the season and on the back of a heart-breaking loss to Sydney last week - their sixth defeat this campaign. Coach John Aloisi is under intense pressure with chief executive Scott Munn refusing to guarantee he'll see out the season at the bottom-of-the-table club. But if there's ever a time to lift, it's the Melbourne derby. The last time the the tow teams met in the opening round it ended in a stalemate. But with Victory coming off a 2-0 win over Perth and having created over 20 chances in that match, it's hard to see there being no goals in this derby.
Key: Mitch Nichols. The Victory playmaker has had a strong season to date and has the capacity to break games open.
SUNDAY, Dec 22
Wellington Phoenix v Sydney FC at Westpac Stadium 5.00pm
Head to Head: Phoenix 11 SydFC 11 drawn 1
Last clash: Round 7 2013-2014 - SydFC 2 bt Phoenix 1 at Allianz Stadium
Tab Sportsbet: Phoenix $2.25 SydFC $2.85 Draw $3.40
This will be the Phoenix's second game in just four days but they'll be back home where they've only lost once this season. Sydney righted their ship last week rebounding from their loss against the Mariners with a 2-1 win over Heart. But coach Frank Farina admitted his side were lucky to snatch the three points and will be wanting to look more convincing this week. Farina will be sweating on the availability of Alessandro Del Piero, with the veteran Italian taken off last week with tightness in his lower back. And with this match kicking off a period of three games in 13 days for the Sky Blues Farina will have to use Del Piero wisely.
Key: Ranko Despotovic. The Serbian striker has scored three goals in his four matches so far and could prove the difference again for Sydney.
Perth Glory v Adelaide United at nib Stadium 7.00pm
Head to Head: Glory 11 AdUtd 13 drawn 10
Last clash: Round 6 2013-2014 - Glory 1 drew AdUtd 1 at nib Stadium
Tab Sportsbet: Glory $2.20 AdUtd $3.00 Draw $3.40
Adelaide will be high on confidence having posted the upset of the round trouncing the defending champions Central Coast 4-0 last week. Perth on the other hand have endured a turbulent week with a heated feud between skipper Jacob Burns and Alistair Edwards costing the coach his job. The Reds will be without Fabio Ferreira after the striker sustained an abductor injury last week. But his replacement Jeronimo Neumann is more than capable of finding the back of the net. And alleviated some of the pressure on under fire coach Josep Gombau the Reds will be looking to take advantage of a distracted Perth side.
Key: Sergio Cirio. The Spaniard is a potential game-breaker. He set up the opening goal last week and netted one himself.
MONDAY, Dec 23
Western Sydney Wanderers v Central Coast Mariners at Pirtek Stadium 7.00pm
Head to Head: Western Sydney 1 Mariners 2 drawn 2
Last clash: Round 1 2013-2014 - Mariners 1 drew Western Sydney 1 at Bluetongue Stadium
Tab Sportsbet: Western Sydney $1.85 Mariners $4.00 Draw $3.40
The Wanderers have been solid without being spectacular this season. But they look set to get young gun Tomi Juric back from injury for this clash and he's sure to add the spark they've lacked up front. The Mariners however are struggling to overcome the many changes at the club. There's talk of a move to North Sydney while new coach Phil Moss looks likely to lose key player, Kiwi international Michael McGlinchey, to former mentor Graham Arnold's new Japanese club. Getting three points at Pirtek Stadium, where the Wanderers are yet to lose this season, could be a tough ask for the defending champions.
Key: Shinji Ono. The Japanese star hasn't quite hit the same heights of last season but if can regain the form that helped the Wanderers to the premiership he could prove the difference.
Tip: Western Sydney