Mel McLaughlin's round 1 preview

Fox Sports football host Mel McLaughlin offers her game-by-game tips and insights ahead the first round of the Hyundai A-League.

Fox Sports football host Mel McLaughlin offers her game-by-game tips and insights ahead the first round of the Hyundai A-League.

Newcastle Jets v Melbourne Heart, Saturday 4.30pm (EDT) FS1 HD, Ausgrid Stadium. What an unbelievable twist just before kick-off to the biggest A-League season to date. Newcastle Jets, minus Branko Culina, will take on Melbourne Heart in front of what I'm expecting to be a loud, passionate crowd after a fantastic membership drive in the off season. How will the Jets respond to the turmoil and added scrutiny? I think well. They haven't made too many changes and have a solid midfield and importantly back line (big things are expected of new Brazilian central defender Tiago). They might have some niggling injuries to several players, but they can be very a stubborn side. Whilst I'm expecting the Heart to do well this season - their attack will be fast and dangerous particularly if we see the Fred of old - I'm going with the local boys in this one. Tip: Newcastle Jets

Melbourne Victory v Sydney FC, Saturday, 6.30pm (EDT) FS1 HD, Etihad Stadium Has there been an A-League fixture that's had a bigger build-up? We all can't wait. Brett Emerton said on Fox Sports FC that he was expecting a "European atmosphere", and it won't disappoint. This will be exciting, fiery and hopefully there will be plenty of goals. Oh yeah ... and of course there's that little matter of Emerton and Harry Kewell making an appearance. I can't wait to see them in their respective A-League colours. Sydney have boosted their defensive stocks with much needed experience; Nick Carle has had a full pre-season and much is expected of young boys Terry Antonis and Dimitri Petratos. On the other hand, Victory have added to their attack. On occasions like these, the experience of captains Adrian Leijer and Terry McFlynn will be priceless. Tip: Draw

Brisbane Roar v Central Coast Mariners, Saturday, 8.45pm (EDT) FS1 HD, Suncorp Stadium Hope you've blocked out all of Saturday, because the final fixture is a must-see - the grand final re-match at Suncorp Stadium. The Roar and the Mariners will be impressive again this season. The question for Brisbane is how will they go without the likes of Matt McKay and Kosta Barbarouses? They've reportedly recruited well, and let's not forget they still have Thomas Broich, Erik Paartalu, Matt Smith, Michael Theoklitos and co. We should see Brisbane's new recruits make their A-league debut as well. Central Coast will be genuine contenders once again. But skipper Alex Wilkinson is out injured, as is young star Mustafa Amini, so I'm tipping the Roar (with leanings towards a draw - yes, on the fence). Tip: Brisbane

Gold Coast United v Wellington Phoenix, Sunday, 5pm (EDT) FS1 HD, Skilled Park Make sure you get some rest because there are two more matches to wrap things up. On Sunday, it's off to the "Glitter Strip" ... OK not quite, but we WILL see a new-look Gold Coast team. They-ll have a Dutch flavour against a very familiar looking Wellington Phoenix. The Phoenix have suffered injury blows and will need key players, like Paul fill and Leo Bertos, to step up week in, week out, until they have more depth. Some are tipping United to be the surprise packets this season. I'm not sure just yet, but I am tipping them in this match. Tip: Gold Coast

Perth Glory v Adelaide United, Sunday 7pm (EDT) FS1 HD, nib Stadium It-s over to the west for Perth v Adelaide to finish the opening round. Both team have been very busy recruiting over the off-season and have plenty of quality on paper. There-s also the tasty little addition of former Red, their beloved captain Travis Dodd, facing his old side. The Glory know they have to make a statement from the beginning and will be buoyed by having the likes of Dodd, Shane Smeltz and Liam Miller in the line-up. However, some say Adelaide have the best squad in the league and it's hard to argue. This one will come down to who has settled the best in time for kick off. I-m tipping this one to be a cracker, but finding it very difficult to split, so I won't. Tip: Draw - hopefully high scoring.