David Lowe previews Round 11 of the Hyundai A-League.
Round 11 of the Hyundai A-League is massively important to a number of clubs, not the least of which are Saturday combatants the Newcastle Jets and Sydney FC, and the Brisbane Roar and Central Coast Mariners.
The Jets can leapfrog their opponents on the league table if they take 3-points home from Ausgrid Stadium and would occupy a top 6 berth before a testing pre Christmas trip to Wellington next Friday.
The Jets were below their best against the Mariners last weekend and will be looking to recapture the energy and form they displayed a week prior against Melbourne Victory.
The loss of Nikolai Topor-Stanley to a hamstring complaint is a blow but the dependable Taylor Regan will let nobody down when he steps into the breach. On the flip side the prospective return to the frontline of mercurial Englishman Francis Jeffers, will add to the creativity and threat the Jets present.
Sydney, like their hosts, have been a little Jekyll & Hyde in the form guide, with consistency of performance a problem in recent weeks. They are traditionally a difficult opponent for the Jets and have some top class players in their ranks, headlined by Socceroo Brett Emerton and former Jets star Nicky Carle.
There is always a bit of feeling in these clashes and usually quite a bit at stake, and Saturday's fixture certainly looks like following that script.
On the subject of games with feeling and a bit at stake, the grand final rematch between the Brisbane Roar and the Mariners looms as a defining moment in the A-League season. At stake is top spot in the league but more importantly perhaps, a huge psychological boost for the victor.
A fourth successive loss for the Roar would surely increase any emerging self doubt, while the Mariners are on a winning roll and a win in Brisbane would convince their squad they are genuine title contenders.