The Big Five Questions | Round 20

Can Shane Smeltz be to Ian Ferguson what Bruce Wayne is to Gotham? And have the Match Review Panel hit Sydney's late bid for salvation for six?

Central Coast Mariners v Wellington Phoenix: Are the Mariners slipping? It-s déjà vu all over again in 2013. Christmas saw the Mariners leading the league handily and although this time it-s not the Roar chasing them but rather the Victory, they aren-t at their best and have a team breathing down their neck.

The loss of Tom Rogic appears to be having a similar effect to what the loss of Matt Simon did in the previous season, with the goals drying up at Bluetongue Stadium and if it hadn-t have been for a late Daniel McBreen goal last week they would have gone under to the Roar.

Wellington may not be the best side in the league, but they are capable at times of providing a stern test and while they were nowhere near convincing against Perth, they did win, which matters.

So what do the Mariners have to do to show us they are still the benchmark? Simple they have to pump Wellington in Sydney FC style, anything less than a convincing win will likely mean their once vice-like grip on the Premier-s Plate is beginning to slip away.

Adelaide United v Melbourne Victory: How badly will Adelaide get belted? To put it in betting terms the Victory are a lay down misere for this match. Ange Postecoglou-s men are flying right now and there seems to be very little that is capable of stopping them.

Unfortunately for Adelaide, conceding four goals against the Wanderers is hardly the form you want to carry into a match which could easily see you concede even more goals against a team who enjoy putting their opponents to the sword.

So what do the Reds do? Sitting deep didn-t work for them against the Wanderers and to be perfectly honest, the likes of Boogard, Fyfe and Bowles don-t have the pace or skill to keep up with Flores, Thompson and Rojas, which leaves one option, all-out attack.

The return of Jeronimo will help them in this regard but the downside is it will open up space in the middle of the park and the Reds already have more holes than a wheel of Jarlsberg, but if they want the three points it might be Michael Valkanis-s only option.

To answer our initial question… pretty bad, 5-1.

Melbourne Heart v Perth Glory: Is Fergie done and dusted? Senior players complaining, tick. Fans calling for your head? Yep. Admission that you-re under pressure? Absolutely.

To be honest, I-ve always enjoyed Ian Ferguson-s candour and if I-m being really honest he may not have had much of a say in the losses of Billy Mehmet and Bas van den Brink but those two in particular are massive and for whatever reason he can-t get his squad playing the football they should be.

The talent is there, for Perth, the power is not. It-s kind of like when the lights went out at the Superbowl earlier this week, except at Perth their doesn-t seem to be any on switch to flick, it-s more likely that Dark Knight Rises villain Bane will emerge from the shadows to inflict a crushing end to Ferguson-s time at the Glory.

The things that might save him are Melbourne Heart are about as inconsistent as it gets in the A-League and have suffered the loss of yet another striker in Josip Tadic, which means the men most likely to lead the line are Golgol Mebrahtu and David Williams. The two possess speed, but they might not have the physicality to match it with Perth-s burly defenders.

Also Shane Smeltz is set to return to the Perth line-up and although he hasn't been prolific this season, he has a happy knack of being the hero when it matters, so can he save his manager?

Wanderers FC v Newcastle Jets: Are the Jets ready to go Supersonic? The rapid rise of the Wanderers might just be the most-talked about subject in the Hyundai A-League this year, while the Jets have gone about their business quietly.

Gary van Egmond-s men are unbeaten in their last five matches, and while that last five has featured four draws against a mixed bag of contenders from the Mariners to Wellington and a lone win over Brisbane Roar they haven-t received much praise and in comparison to the Wanderers who have won their last four matches that is probably fair enough.

But watching the Jets of late it seems there is a real sense of purpose, if only they could find that last ball. They are knocking it around well all over the park, before struggling to link up in the final third.

Make no mistake they may be a few points off Adelaide, but the Reds are slumping, the Jets are climbing, this weekend they might even be ready to take a leaf out of Tom Cruise-s storied playbook and go “supersonic.”

Sydney FC v Brisbane Roar: Have the MRP hit Sydney-s season for six? While some Sky Blues fans would argue the loss of Terry McFlynn is a good thing, and let-s face it McFlynn is about as out-of-fashion with some of their fans as flares, or jeans with writing on them, he has been playing some decent football throughout their resurgence.

You then add the loss of Joel Griffiths on a somewhat controversial charge and the Sky Blues have lost two very experienced heads when they might just need them most.

Recent battles between these two clubs have been memorable. First there was Sydney ending the brilliant Brisbane streak last season, then Besart Berisha and Pascal Bosschaart enjoyed a tangle in the tunnel at Suncorp Stadium.

This season Brisbane heaped pain on Sydney in Brisbane in their only encounter, one where Thomas Broich and Alessandro Del Piero were the stars and if Sydney are to win this one without Griffiths they might just need a big performance from the Italian.

It-s a real six-pointer, whoever wins will jump three points clear of the other and Sydney-s suspension list, which also includes goalkeeping coach Zeljko Kalac could be what really hurts them.