The Big Five Questions | Round 14

Are the Mariners about to implode? Are Sydney about to embark on a winning streak? And are the Phoenix simply to quick for Brisbane?

We consider whether Sydney can do it right without ADP and whether the Mariners and Reds might just to be about to fall from grace in a big way.

Central Coast Mariners v Perth Glory: Is it all falling apart? Not for the first time the Mariners have started the season with a bang only to see a bumpy road greet them in the New Year.

They will head into 2013 without Tom Rogic, who shall sit on the sidelines for three matches to think about what truly was a shocking challenge on Sydney FC-s Rhyan Grant. While the loss of Rogic is going to detract from their midfield creativity they will also lose the starch for the match with Perth Glory; John Hutchinson received two yellows against Sydney FC and can kick-start his New Year-s festivities while watching the match from the stand with a schooner of Bluetongue.

And it won-t be just he and Rogic either, Patrick Zwaanswijk is injured and Daniel McBreen is also banned for picking up his fifth yellow of the season, leaving the Mariners with the unenviable task of wining without three of their most potent attacking weapons.

When you also consider they failed to secure the points against Wellington and that they then were outplayed by Sydney FC, one could consider it to be a worrying time for Graham Arnold and his men

And while they-re slipping, Perth are starting to fire and are very capable of taking the three points in this match.

Adelaide United v Sydney FC: Two in a row? There-s no question Sydney FC have been playing better football of late, and shocking the ladder leaders in front of your home fans can surely do wonders for one-s confidence but if they don-t keep it up in Adelaide in might be all for nothing.

Sydney have showed in the past that no Alessandro Del Piero isn-t always a bad thing and although he bossed the midfield against Central Coast, he wasn-t there when Sydney beat Wellington in impressive fashion just a few rounds ago, proving that the Sky Blues don-t necessarily need their star to impress and win.

That the players know that is a bonus and that they are travelling to take on an Adelaide side who have suffered a severe dip in form in recent weeks.

John Kosmina-s side were belted by the Wanderers and then turned in one of the most insipid displays you may ever see against a somewhat resurgent Brisbane Roar outfit.

Adelaide are ripe for the picking, the question is can Sydney take advantage and who will boss the midfield and feed Yairo Yau in the absence of Del Piero?

Melbourne Heart v Newcastle Jets: Can the Heart see out 90 minutes? The Heart are the worst second half side in the competition, which prompts one question; is it a lack of confidence or a lack of fitness?

Whichever one it is John Aloisi and his men better look to quash the issue in quick fashion, because this Jets side are starting to prove they are one side that simply won-t go away.

Not too many sides come back to level against Melbourne Victory when they go two goals up and Newcastle showed their resolve by doing so against them over the Christmas period that they lost was because of the brilliance of one man; Marco Rojas, and it would seem he has the Johnny Warren Medal at his mercy.

Back to the Heart, they looked shattered and tired when Wellington came back from two goals down to beat them late, just as Victory did with a one goal deficit the week before, they need to switch on for the full 90 or any finals chance they have had may well be gone.

Wanderers FC v Melbourne Victory: Who is the real deal? If there are two teams who are rapidly starting to close the gap on both the ladder and in performance to Central Coast and Adelaide it is these two.

Tony Popovic and Ange Postecoglou have very different coaching philosophies, of that there is no doubt but they are both getting the best out of their sides and some of their youngsters.

But this match isn-t about that, it-s about the coaches- tactics, there is every chance the Wanderers could creep back into their defensive shell for this one, which is a move that could prove disastrous.

The Victory have the in-form strike duo of the league in Marco Rojas and Archie Thompson and inviting them in to a deep-lying defence could prove a disaster.

The Wanderers need to have the confidence to attack and play a high line, which is a necessity against Thompson, who more than anyone likes to play off the shoulder of defenders and giving him too much space too close to goal could hurt very badly.

While the attack is key it-s likely this one might come down to a piece of goalkeeping brilliance. Ante Covic and Nathan Coe are among the best the league has seen this season and despite signing a new deal with the Wanderers, you can bet Covic will still want to show Ange Postecoglou just what a great keeper he showed the door to.

Brisbane Roar v Wellington Phoenix: Can the Roar withstand the young Phoenix? Here-s the thing about Ricki Herbert, no matter what the conundrum he finds a way to win. It-s why he is about to become the most-tenured manager in A-League history and it-s why he is so revered in New Zealand.

The man has a brilliant football brain.

Last year the problem was winning on the road, the solution - park the jet. This year the problem has been finding the net, enter the tricky trifecta of Fenton, Boyd and Totori.

While the latter is just a bench player at this stage, the two former names are emerging stars of New Zealand football and all three have a common theme to their game, they are attack-minded, quick, confident and will take their chance to run at defenders.

The Roar for their part have experienced defenders in the likes of Matt Smith, Ivan Franjic and Shane Steffanutto but there is a huge question mark on how they will handle the pace the Nix possess up front, because there is no way they can match it.

As such tight marking and some body checks might be the go as they look to use all their experience to keep the resurgent Phoenix out.

Both teams have picked up their form of late, but Wellington have been more convincing. In many ways this is an acid test for Mike Mulvey-s Roar, because Wellington always put up a fight.