With their coaches under pressure, can the Phoenix and Glory rediscover their manly mojo this weekend?
Brisbane Roar v Central Coast Mariners: Will the Mariners inflict some pain?
Footballers don-t like to use the word “revenge” - but c-mon... We all know you want it. And is any team in the A-League due some cold, hard revenge more than Central Coast on Brisbane?
Two seasons in a row, directly and indirectly, the Roar-s grand final dramatics stole the thunder from Arnie-s army. The first in a penalty shoot-out, the second, well, by just being Ange Postecoglou-s Roar.
The tables haven-t exactly been turned now but the Roar certainly aren-t the team they used to be and the Mariners, five points clear at the top of the table, will never have a better chance to kick the men in orange when they-re down.
And with Melbourne Victory breathing down their necks like some sweaty teenager, the Mariners have to keep that points buffer to a maximum with a result at Suncorp.
Mike Mulvey reckons his new-look Roar can force their way back into finals contention but it-s going to take a form turnaround of almighty proportions to drag themselves out of that bottom six quagmire. Or could the familiar scent of the Mariners be just the thing Brisbane-s sleeping lion needs?
Wellington Phoenix v Perth Glory: Should both teams go back to what they do best? EPL club Aston Villa-s old chairman Doug Ellis used to have the nickname “Deadly Doug”, because every time he gave one of his manager-s the dreaded vote of confidence, the axe would swing not long after.
Both Ricki Herbert and Ian Ferguson received the backing of their respective Suits recently and you have to wonder if both coaches have been anxiously rubbing their necks as the pressure to turn the season around before it-s too late increases.
Phoenix have, apparently, decided that looking good means little if you have nothing to show for it, and so will be returning to the direct football of old. So consider this tiki-ta-ta... See what we did there?
And we said it last week but we-ll say it again - Ian Ferguson should follow suit and get his team back to that physical football team we all knew and loved.
Since Glory copped a load for being too rough at the start of the season, they-ve backed off the challenges and the top six at the same time. Perth just haven-t been the same since they lost that manly vigour.
They-re like Samson without his hair, James Bond without his licence to kill, Austin Powers without his mojo. Glory's metro-men need to drop the moisturiser and slap on some Old Spice. Man up!
Newcastle Jets v Sydney FC: Can Sydney-s firepower save their season? What happens when the league-s second-worst attack meets the league-s sloppiest defence? Will it be a goal-fest or a snore-draw at Hunter Stadium?
With both clubs struggling to put out a consistent team, the signs aren-t good. Newcastle cut their last foundation player adrift this week, with Jobe Wheelhouse deciding that if couldn-t get a contract with the Jets, he-d rather not play.
The loss of such senior players never bodes well and it seems Gary van Egmond is struggling to really build this team into the unit he wants, and as a result, the Jets game plan remains confused and confusing.
Sydney FC are just as bewildering but they can at least boast a wealth of talent and experience to get them through. The loss to Melbourne Victory last week explicitly revealed the Sky Blues- current standard - but a dusty cage-fight for a top-six spot against a state rival could be just what the doctor ordered. Unless the doctor orders sleeping pills...
Melbourne Victory v Melbourne Heart: Will Heart step up - again? John Aloisi-s Melbourne Heart are like a servo pie - either scaldingly hot or worryingly cold. But the fire of a Melbourne derby always seems to heat them to near volcanic temperatures.
There-s no doubt Victory are the more fluid attacking side of the two, as Ange Postecoglou looks to drive his team into the home straight of the season. But for all their threat upfront, Victory remain vulnerable at the back and Heart have frustrated their cross-town rivals plenty of times in the past.
Both are coming off the back of well-deserved wins last week but neither are quite in the position they want to be in right now. Victory know they have to hunt down the ultra-consistent Mariners five points ahead of them, while Heart are in the pitched battle for the final two spots in the finals.
And both sides are facing pressure from all sides and would love to put a serious dent in the other-s season. Are the Heart a big-game team or just big game for Victory?
Adelaide United v Western Sydney Wanderers: Will the Reds bounce back? To say Adelaide are in disarray following John Kosmina-s resignation might be a bit much but the club, its structure and the behind-the-scenes issues have certainly come under the spotlight since Kossie-s dramatic announcement.
We-ve all heard the rumours and hearsay about Michael Valkanis-s role in all this - but now all the former Reds defender has to focus on is bringing the squad together for the visit for perhaps the closest knit team in the competition.
Home advantage should at least give the Reds a helping hand but it remains to be seen whether Valkanis will look to make changes quickly or simply try to steady the ship and keep the finals charge on track.
The Wanderers are obviously in the ascendency and a very tough team to break down, particularly for an Adelaide side shorn of strikers. But a siege mentality can drive a team to great things. How much belief do Adelaide have left?