It's a big game tonight for the Newcastle Jets as a draw will see them break their 5-round points record and a win will see them move back to the top of the table for at least the next week.
Not many predicted the Newcastle Jets to start the season in the style they have. Scott Miller's men have been superb in the opening month of the season and a draw would be enough to secure their greatest ever start to an A-League season. The last time the Jets started the season in this form they won the whole thing. Let's not get ahead of ourselves though.
Last week's 3-2 comeback win over Melbourne City was a far cry from the Jets of old. Last season the team would no doubt have gone back out and got smashed for four or five. It's been a long time since the pride and passion and effort has been this high at Newcastle.
It's quite the opposite at the Western Sydney Wanderers. Dramas off the field with their active supporters and the media has been a distraction from the on-field results. Last week's 1-0 win over Perth Glory was a timely win and a long-awaited clean sheet for Tony Popovic's side. Truth is though, the Wanderers need to be better if they're to threaten for silverware this season.
The Jets are boosted by the return of Brazilian playmaker Leonardo. The number 10 missed the City game last week and his replacement Mitch Cooper had a poor game by his standards and was rightfully replaced at half-time. It changed the game and the rest is history. This isn't a put down to Cooper; he's got a lot of potential and last week just wasn't his week. Leonardo returning will boost the Jets' attacking formation and could be a catalyst for a big win.
Defender Daniel Mullen will miss out on the chance to play his former side but it opens the door for Lachlan Jackson to play in the centre of defence. Off-season signing Andy Brennan is avaliable this week and the former South Melbourne striker could be a solid back-up for Milos Trifunovic.
Talking about Trifunovic; the Serbian found some goalscoring form in Melbourne last week and will no doubt have a confidence boost as a result. He's shown glimpses of quality and if he can start finding the back of the net more regularly, there's no reason he can't be the signing of the season like Scott Miller wants him to be.
Romeo Castelen is back for the visitors and will cause some trouble down the wing. It's a near full-strength squad for Tony Popovic with only Shannon Cole remaining on the injury list (he's expected back within the next week or two). With no ACL commiments this season; there's no excuses for the Wanderers and it's crucial they start finding some form sooner rather than later.
At home and in front of a big crowd, the Jets will be looking to make it four wins from five starts and continue their impressive start to the season. It's games like this that the Jets really should be winning if they want to be taken seriously as a contender.
Newysports Panel Tips:
Ty Stedman: Newcastle 2-0
Alex Evans: Newcastle 1-0
Keegan Pulik: Newcastle 2-1