The Big Five Questions | Round 13

Can the Reds bounce back? Whose No.10 will stand out? And just how do you stop Marco Rojas? The big questions for round 13.

Can the Reds bounce back? Whose No.10 will stand out? And just how do you stop Marco Rojas? The big questions for round 13.

Adelaide United v Brisbane Roar: Can the Reds bounce back? Adelaide looked more like the 2011 United against the Wanderers and John Kosmina admitted his team were “bashed” by a more physical Western Sydney side. As a result we reckon Kossie might have slipped each player a glass of concrete in their Xmas stockings, imploring them to harden up before they take on a desperate Brisbane Roar side.

Fortunately for the Reds they only dropped a point to the Mariners in their race for the Premier-s Plate, after the navy and yellow were held by Wellington, but it doesn-t mean they can slack off.

They haven-t been challenged like this in the current season and were unlucky against the Mariners, but they were truly humiliated by Tony Popovic-s side. How they respond will say a lot about the mental strength of the team.

As for the Roar, serious questions are being asked about their playing roster and Mike Mulvey has put the players on notice that he-s planning on a New Year-s shopping spree, so for the Roar it-s a case of who still wants in and who will step it up?

Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne Heart: Who can keep it going? The term reward for effort is a funny thing; sometimes you get it, other times you don-t.

In round 12 Wellington got theirs, a valued point against the table-topping Mariners. As for the Heart, they were very, very good against Victory but came up empty handed and heartbroken, thanks to Archibald Gerald Thompson-s ability to show up at the exact right moment.

The question is can they keep up that level? It was there in round one, disappeared for a while then showed up in the second derby of the season.

Much like their supporters, Heart are making a nasty habit of only showing up for the biggest of games. If they want to be considered a serious team, they need to show up for all games.

They can absolutely take the game to Wellington, who are heavily reliant on their youngsters right now, but they have to get over a devastating loss in a short period of time to do so.

Sydney FC v Central Coast Mariners: Who can pick the margin? This match screams cakewalk. Did Sydney improve last week? Yes. Was the performance any good? Not really.

For all the media attention they receive, one thing has remained constant in the current season - Sydney FC have become a punch-line for jokes about poor performance.

They lack creativity, they lack a high quality defence and for all the hype about ADP, Emerton and Culina, none have really delivered their best - but maybe that-s what you get for bringing in players who are well past their heyday and mixing them with a group of talented but inexperienced youth graduates and some - well, we-ll call them “bustling” players.

If the Sky Blues are tails on the coin and tails on the ladder, the Mariners are heads and shoulders above the rest.

Last time the sides played the Mariners clinically cut Sydney FC apart and pulled their pants down to give them a public spanking, this time it may be more of the same, so get on your exotics and pick the score. Unless Frank Farina can suddenly knock his players into line, we-re calling 5-0 Mariners.

Perth Glory v Wanderers FC: Who will win the battle of the No 10s? This looms as perhaps the most intriguing match of the round; both sides are on an upward curve and intent on moving up the ladder but for one of them have to stall.

The truth is, despite the Wanderers hitting the Reds for six, both sides have struggled to find the net this season and invariably their attacking chances come though play started by their respective No 10s.

Aaron Mooy has been a vital cog in the Wanderers machine; his vision and creativity launching many attacks from deep in his own half, the fact his strikers so often fail to convert is not his fault.

While for the Glory the impact of Liam Miller is key. The former Manchester United man is all class, and when he was out injured the Glory looked devoid of ideas of how to properly get the ball into the final third. Now that he is back the attack is slowly beginning to improve and it-s no coincidence.

On top of that, both Ante Covic and Danny Vukovic are two of the in-form keepers in the league and it could come down to a brilliant ball from Mooy or Miller to set up an all-important goal.

Melbourne Victory v Newcastle Jets: How does one stop Marco Rojas? If one player has stood taller than any other this season, rather ironically, it is Marco Rojas. The diminutive midfielder jokes about his own size regularly, but on the field he is a giant; a Colossus even.

Even when he isn-t bossing a game he has found a way to be of value, finding himself in the right place to score a goal, or pushing a superb pass to Archie Thompson, Andrew Nabbout or Mark Milligan; he-s looking unstoppable and probably has the Johnny Warren Medal at his mercy.

Now the Jets face the conundrum everyone else has failed to solve. How do you stop him? Only Craig Goodwin would have the pace to match him, but then you risk losing one of your best attacking weapons to a defensive role.

Ruben Zadkovich could certainly outmuscle him and would have no problems getting physical with him and perhaps that is the best answer, bend the rules, play hard and stop him from making those jinking runs before he starts them.

As anti-football as that may sound, it might just be the only way.