The Big Five Questions | Round 8

Can Sydney pull themselves together, will the real Heart stand up and are Victory any closer to the finished product? All the big questions for Round 8.

Can Sydney pull themselves together, will the real Heart stand up and are Victory any closer to the finished product? All the big questions for Round 8.

1. Can Sydney pull themselves together? Sydney FC-s form has been one of the biggest talking points this season and there have been few signs the Sky Blues are any closer to reaching any level of consistency.

An ever-changing defensive line-up, unable to find the best combination in midfield and not enough goals from people not called Del Piero. Surely it can-t go on any longer?

They didn-t get the “new coach bounce” when Steve Corica took over the reigns as interim coach, so perhaps the potential on-field return of Jason Culina can give Sydney FC the lift they need?

There are obvious question marks of Culina-s match fitness after so long out, and whether his injuries have affected his capacity to dictate a game as before - but still, any A-League side boasting Del Piero, Emerton and Culina is surely a side to be reckoned with.

All that stands in the way is John Kosmina-s high flying Reds, who might just show Sydney what it means to have a cohesive, structured football team.

2. Can Heart find their consistency? We know Melbourne Heart can play good football under John Aloisi, we-ve seen it happen. We just don-t know when they-re going to do it. The record so far goes WDLLLWL - so it-s anyone-s guess as to which Heart will turn up.

There have been some good points for Heart despite their inconsistent results, not least Richard Garcia-s impressive form since returning to Australia. The midfielder looks good when he goes at the opposition and provides a real driving force from the middle of the park, a valuable counterpoint to the more considered Fred.

Newcastle will provide a stern test, however, and Gary van Egmond will demand a return to their best form after the embarrassing home loss to Wellington last week. It-s an interesting battle for two teams who haven-t quite yet defined themselves this season.

3. Are Victory any closer to the finished product? The initial temptation is to ask a question about Western Sydney - but Tony Popovic-s side can no longer be considered underdogs or outsiders, as last week-s impressive away win over Perth shows.

So the focus falls on Ange Postecoglou-s Melbourne Victory, who have shown, in flashes, that they have the potential to be a devastating attacking unit.

That interplay between Flores, Rojas and Thompson, however, isn-t balanced by any real solidity at the back. Will Ange have to alter his plan, is he waiting for his players to get to grips with it or will he have to sign some more to add some steel to the style?

Victory have only won one of their three away fixtures so far this season, in that comeback against a flaky Sydney FC. The disciplined and organised Wanderers won-t give them any such time or space.

4. Will the tyranny of distance finish Phoenix? Yep, it-s that time again - the air miles rivalry. After their somewhat surprising result against Newcastle last week, Wellington finally fly into WA full of confidence.

But Perth is a tough place for any team to visit but especially Phoenix, even with their experience of travel. And they face a home team in fine form and who should have got some sort of result against the Wanderers last week.

Phoenix have struggled t put together a good run of results so far this season, while last week was only Perth-s first loss at home this term. It seems this one might just be too big a leap for Wellington.

5. What's happened to the Roar's confidence? It-s harsh to say - but both of Brisbane-s best results this season have come against teams struggling for structure and form. And Central Coast are a very different proposition to Sydney FC and the early season Melbourne Victory.

Roar are also yet to win on the road this year - with all due respect, current form doesn-t suggest they-re about to break that run in Gosford.

Brisbane have been something of a conundrum so far, playing well, creating chances and often dominating possession - but unable to finish teams off and conceding far too many goals. What has changed in their mentality or tactics from when they simply refused to give other teams a break?

The Mariners, on the other hand, are making their mark on the season with a ruthless efficiency. Graham Arnold-s side are so well organised and familiar with each other, they rarely look panicked, no matter what the opposition throws at them.

If Brisbane can get a result at Bluetongue, they-ll need to show that old game-breaking confidence.