The Big Five Questions | Round 12

This week we wonder if the Wanderers are carrying false form and just who out of Sydney and Newcastle can drag themselves out of their mire?.

We take a look at all the big issues plaguing teams ahead of round 12 of Hyundai A-League action, with a special focus on Sydney FC and the Jets.

Wanderers FC v Adelaide United: Can the Wanderers mix it with the big boys? It-s no secret that Tony Popovic-s side have exceeded most people-s expectations of them - and for that matter so have John Kosmina-s men. But they have carried themselves like winners from day one, while the Wanderers have battled through each match, never really looking certain of the three points until last weekend.

They got the plaudits for their performance and they were deserved, but look at what they beat - the rabble otherwise known as Sydney FC. It-s like a racehorse making a mess of the Moonee Valley Gold Cup field; it-s great if you were on for the win, but you-re probably not going to put your hard-earned on it in the Melbourne Cup.

The Wanderers are that honest horse that occasionally streaks away, you know what you-re going to get, and they don-t win out of turn. The teams they have beaten are Sydney FC, Brisbane Roar (twice), Melbourne Heart and Perth.

All of those teams are below them on the ladder and three of them occupy the bottom three rungs.

That they will be competitive we don-t doubt, but their ability to get the three points is seriously in question against the top sides in the A-League.

Brisbane Roar v Perth Glory: Will change help the Roar? Mike Mulvey is a very good coach; he dragged Gold Coast out of a stupor late last year and has recently got the Victory women-s team to have success and you can bet he will be keen to continue the trend at the Roar.

The problem he faces is impacting his own style on the squad. One week isn-t enough to change the style, but it might be enough to change the languid atmosphere and light a fire under the Roar.

The lax defence and unwillingness to chase might be a thing of the past, Mulvey might set Ben Halloran loose. The youngster flourished under him at GCU and he might get a free reign, especially as the Roar search for a player who will be there to inspire them and score goals with Besart Berisha out of the side.

Wellington Phoenix v Central Coast Mariners: Is it time for a youth revolution? For so many years Graham Arnold has nurtured and developed young talents at the Mariners, now the Phoenix are starting to do the same thing and Ricki Herbert might just be set to reap the benefits.

Out of sorts of late there is no question the Nix looked better in attack last week when Messer-s Fenton, Boyd and Totori were let of the leash, they could have come back and stolen a point from Adelaide, with only bad luck and Eugene Galekovic stopping them.

Now, Paul ifill has gone down injured and Herbert might just be forced to rely on these young guns to lift the Phoenix out of their funk and take the game to a Mariners side who have looked good against all comers.

All-out attack might just be the only way to go for the yellow and black.

Newcastle Jets v Sydney FC: Who can truly move forward? Both teams are struggling, no one could doubt that. And while Sydney turned in one of the most timid, insipid performances anyone will ever see last weekend, the Jets weren-t far behind them.

Both sides will have likely taken a long hard look in the mirror and faced some harsh truths.

For the Jets, that truth is they don-t seem to be able to score. The goals have dried up and even Emile Heskey has admitted they need to find a new way to play, because the opposition has figured him out and figured the Jets out.

For the Sky Blues moving forward might just be even harder, because there is a serious element of the following:

“Defender plays it to the midfielder, midfielder to striker, striker to midfielder, holds it, holds it, hooooolds it..." back to the keeper.

We-re not saying there is anything wrong with playing backwards to go forwards but when you-re so negative that the majority of your passes go backwards and Terry McFlynn isn-t even in the side, you have serious confidence problems and you-re probably not using the wide areas properly.

Sydney need to overcome this, Newcastle need to overcome being one-dimensional, the game at Hunter Stadium could be "bowling shoe ugly".

Melbourne Heart v Melbourne Victory: Will Victory overwhelm the Heart? Back in round one everyone wrote the Heart off and they shocked the Victory, well guess what? It-s déjà vu all over again, because we-re writing the Heart off.

Poor against the Mariners, it was uncharacteristically Clint Bolton who let the Heart down, but while they have been slumping, the Victory despite an unlikely draw against the Roar have been going from strength to strength.

The Victory get Ange-s football philosophy, are implementing it and playing exciting football, the Heart meanwhile seem to be implementing the *yawns* long-ball theory, and are somewhat reminiscent of Sydney FC under Terry Butcher.

Funny thing is football in this country is evolving; not devolving and the Victory are among the leaders of that evolution.

So can the Heart deal with them? We think not.