The Big Four Questions | round 26

With the Jets and Phoenix having played their round 26 game already, we're a question down this week. But they're still big.

Melbourne Victory v Perth Glory: Can Victory do it without their big three? You could say it-s reductive to say that Melbourne Victory will struggle without Archie Thompson, Mark Milligan and Marco Rojas - but then we-d say, doesn-t matter, it-s true.

Those three individuals have, without doubt, been Victory-s best all season. They-ve struggled upfront without Archie and missing Milligan just places more stress on an already creaky defence.

So the responsibility for upholding Ange Postecoglou-s fluid attack falls on the likes of Connor Pain and Andrew Nabbout, backed up by a half-fit Marcos Flores. While we don-t doubt the youngsters- potential, it-s a big ask.

Not that it really matters too much for Victory. They-ve got their finals spot, all they need to do is hold off Adelaide from nicking third spot.

Glory, on the other hand, have to win. Their home defeat to Wellington last weekend has left them relying on other results going their way. Perth are not without their own absentees too, with Shane Smeltz and Michael Thwaite both out on international duty - but the effects on the home side shouldn-t be quite so severe.

There-s not really a question for the game, only a statement: Perth Glory must win and hope others fall. Anything else, and their disappointing season will finally be over.

Western Sydney Wanderers v Sydney FC: Can Sydney FC ruin the party? You can almost smell the anticipation wafting out of Western Sydney - or maybe that-s the flares being lit… - as the Red and Black Bloc prepare to make the biggest noise of an already noisy season for the newcomers.

FFA couldn-t have scripted it better if they-d tried. The Premiers- Plate up for grabs in the Sydney derby at the home ground of their jack-in-the-box new franchise, with only the Alessandro Del Piero-inspired Sky Blues standing on the way of the fairytale ending in Parramatta.

This isn-t Western Sydney-s only chance at wrapping up the season but they-d sure like to do it in front of their home fans, rather than in Newcastle in round 27.

The force looks to be with Tony Popovic-s side, even with questions makrs over the fitness of Jerome Polenz, Aaron Mooy, and Shinji Ono. Star winger Youssouf Hersi is suspended but on the bright side, the Wanderers didn-t lose any players to the national team.

Sydney FC need to win to tie up that finals berth and will be without skipper Terry McFlynn, with doubts over other positions at the back. But in recent weeks, the Sky Blues have shown the sort of grit that could just make the Wanderers lives difficult. How much noise would Sky Blues fans make if they could hold off their rivals- coronation for another week, at least?


Brisbane Roar v Melbourne Heart: Can Roar bring back the love? Roar have been doing it tough all season. The reigning champions have fighting off criticism from all corners as they look to discover the form that made them the most feted side in Hyundai A-League history.

As the results went pear-shaped, the curtains came down and the knives came out. They just weren-t getting the love they thought they deserved. But there are signs that Brisbane are have found a little bit of that old charm.

The performance against Central Coast last week proved they-ve yet got some way to go but if the lions can sink their teeth into a bleeding Heart, they can overtake Newcastle on the ladder and put one foot in the finals.

And if they can make the top six after the season they-ve had, it might be hugs all round at Suncorp Stadium.

Adelaide United v Central Coast Mariners: If it-s broke, can you fix it? Graham Arnold would deny all day that the Mariners- off-field woes will have any effect on his players - but how could it not? Rumours of a possible strike continue as the club struggles to pay the squad their basic wages, and a hard-fought win last week doesn-t quite paper of the cracks that have appeared since Central Coast lost to Western Sydney.

You don-t have to question how hard Arnie has drilled his players this week or the intensity he-ll be asking from them; nor should you doubt the players- commitment - but nor can we ignore the ramifications of the club-s financial struggles and the unsettling affect it must have on the team a week out from the finals.

It-s a tough time to visit Adelaide, with the Reds smelling blood and third place. How and if the Mariners can put their troubles out of their minds and concentrate on the game will be a huge test for the players and the coach.