While Sydney FC appears to have the Hyundai A-League Premiers’ Plate firmly in their grasp, the race for second spot promises to be a thrilling one in the run-in to the 2017/18 Season Finals Series.
There are plenty of advantages for finishing in the top-two, with a guaranteed week off, an AFC Champions League spot as well as a home grand final qualifier.
Newcastle Jets are currently in the box seat, sitting second with 37 points after Round 19.
But Melbourne City (33 points), Adelaide United (28) and even fifth-placed Melbourne Victory (26) won’t give up hope of chasing down the Jets over the next eight weeks.
So what does it take to secure a top-two finish in the Hyundai A-League?
We’ve dissected the stats over the last five Hyundai A-League seasons to see how many points the chasing clubs might need to grab that all-important second spot.
The average points tally for teams who finished second over the last five seasons was 49, the same amount Victory amassed in the 2016/17 campaign.
If that’s to be the magical figure again, it would leave Ernie Merrick’s Jets needing just four wins from eight matches to lock-up second.
While City could get there with five wins and a draw, the Reds (seven wins) and Victory (eight) have little or no room for error.
As our table at the bottom shows, the last three seasons have been fairly consistent when it comes to points accrued by the regular season’s runners up.
But in the 2013/14 campaign, the second-placed team [Western Sydney Wanderers] needed just 42 points, while the season before that Central Coast Mariners were still second despite amassing a whopping 54 points from their 27 games.
Whatever the tally is this season, the chasing pack has their work cut out to reel in the Jets.
The team’s 37 points is already a record regular season haul, while they’ve also notched a club-high 41 goals for a single campaign, beating the 2011/12 mark of 38.
City appears to be peaking at the right time to mount a challenge, unbeaten in their last six Hyundai A-League games.
But Warren Joyce’s men get a serious test of their title credentials on Saturday night when they host runaway leaders Sydney FC at AAMI Park.