The Wanderers don't have an easy run to the finals. The question is can they keep pace with the Mariners?
Team: Wanderers FC
Current position: Second | 44 points
The run home: Central Coast Mariners (a), Wellington Phoenix (h), Melbourne Heart (a), Sydney FC (h), Newcastle Jets (a)
The question: Will the pressure get to them? Wanderers fans have come to expect that their team will win. They believe that every time they go out there will be three glorious points coming back to Wanderland; that has to put the pressure on the playing group as they chase history.
Looking at the squad it-s easy to say they have the experience to deal with that sort of expectation. And in a sense they do, the squad is full of veterans, but know this, those who have tasted cup or premiership success are just the following Ante Covic, Shinji Ono, Tarek Elrich, Shannon Cole and Mark Bridge.
So the question remains how will the club handle the pressure of a premiership chase, when so many of their players are yet to win one?
The big match: Round 26 v Sydney FC The Sydney Derby is quickly becoming a must-see fixture and this one will be packing a punch. The first time Sydney took the points, then the Wanderers gave the boys in blue a masterclass.
Now with both sides in some hot form, the third and not necessarily final derby of the season looms as an epic. Both clubs are running towards the finals and this game will have a heavy bearing on the final table and the chance the Wanderers have of making it a maiden Premier-s Plate. A win and it might be theirs; a loss could see Central Coast take it out again.
The Player: Shinji Ono He may have taken the longest of all the marquees to warm to the A-League, but the Japanese star is pulling all the strings for the Wanderers and doing it brilliantly.
His vision, passing, speed and shooting forms the most dangerous central midfield partnership in the A-League along with Aaron Mooy and takes the pressure of the younger Mooy. The Wanderers need Ono every bit as much as Sydney FC need Alessandro Del Piero, even if it isn-t talked about as widely.
We say: It-s been a dream season for the Wanderers so far, but there comes a point where a team has to trip over. While they would be expected to beat Wellington and Newcastle, no game bar the Phoenix one is easy; and the Mariners bossed them last time out. The weight of expectation as they chase a Premier-s Plate in their inaugural year might just be too much to bear, if ever there is a time for them to trip up it is now.
Prediction: Second | 54 points