Summer football heats up

With Summer Football now in full swing, we've picked our top five fixtures to watch over the coming weeks.

With Summer Football now in full swing, we've picked our top five fixtures to watch over the coming weeks.

Glory v Wanderers, Subiaco Oval (Patersons Stadium) Turkeys haven't been the only ones getting roasted in Perth this Christmas period, and Glory fans can look forward to a holiday cracker at Subiaco Oval in what looks set to a scorcher of a day.

With a bumper crowd expected to fill out what is now named Patersons Stadium, Glory boss Ian Ferguson is hoping the fired-up Shed can inspire his side to victory against a Western Sydney side riding high after their 6-1 thrashing of Adelaide United.

Glory might have been battling to find their best form of late but a rousing reception from a heated home crowd should inspire them to take the game to the disciplined and confident Wanderers.

If the home team want a late present and they-re going to have to attack, and that should make this fixture a Christmas cracker.

Sydney FC v Central Coast Mariners, Allianz Stadium There is so much emotion surrounding this fixture it-s fitting we should be watching it through the hazy holiday spirit. Can Sydney get their act together? Will Frank Farina finally instil the discipline the Sky Blues have been lacking?

The home team hardly need much in the way of inspiration, after the spanking they were handed the last time the two met. To be overawed by their supposedly smaller state rivals in front of a hopefully home crowd would put a particularly nasty nail in 2012 for Sydney.

The Mariners, on the other hand, go down the F3 holding all the cards. They can afford to be patient or they can have at their hosts, and more than likely inflict some serious hurt. And for FC fans, that-s probably one Christmas hangover too many.

Central Coast Mariners v Perth Glory, NYE at Bluetongue Stadium The annual New Year-s Eve fixture in Gosford is building as one of the season-s best events. The party atmosphere just adds to the expectation of a cracking game as two genuine title contenders face off.

Glory will be anxious of facing Graham Arnold-s side at home on a night when most of the Coast will be out in force to see in the new year. And the Mariners will be hoping to get the party off to an early start and put down yet another marker for one of the clubs chasing their tails up the ladder.

It-s to Ian Ferguson-s credit that his side never play negative football, which means fans in Gosford could get some early fireworks.

Western Sydney Wanderers v Melbourne Victory, Parramatta Stadium, 1 January What a mouth-watering fixture this is, and the perfect antidote to those still suffering from the night before - two sides visibly growing in confidence with each game.

Don-t believe what they tell you - no one expected the Wanderers to be where they are right now. There is a real sense of excitement surrounding Tony Popovic-s team, which might just be adding a little hyperbole to what is already a fascinating season narrative for the new club, but that bruising display against Adelaide showed just how serious the Wanderers are.

Ange Postecoglou-s Victory have been evolving in just the same manner and game by game are becoming the most exhilarating team to watch in the competition. Postecoglou has altered the strategy that was so successful with Brisbane Roar, and while Victory aren-t quite there yet, you sense it-s only a matter of time.

Throw in arguably the two best sets of fans in the league and this game should be a brilliant start to the new football year.

Melbourne Victory v Central Coast Mariners, Aurora Stadium, Launceston, 12 January Victory-s ties to Tasmania have opened a door for football in the Apple Isle. With no Hyundai A-League team of their own, Victory-s sponsorship of the local league will go a long way to coaxing Tasmanian football fans out to enjoy a fantastic contest at Aurora Stadium.

It-s another chapter in the story of Ange Postecoglou v Graham Arnold, with the Mariners boss currently in the ascendency - with Postecoglou not far behind as Victory continue to evolve.

The Mariners are the team to beat right now and they-re playing without fear. The Victory are perhaps the team to watch and playing with a hugely satisfying attacking verve.

Chuck in the carnival atmosphere of a big game taking the code to new and hungry places, book us a flight now - this game is what summer football is all about.