PREVIEW OF A-LEAGUE ROUND 14 MATCHES (all times AEDT):
FRIDAY, Jan 10
Newcastle Jets v Sydney FC at McDonald Jones Stadium, 7.30pm
Head to head: Sydney 27, Jets 8, drawn 10
Last clash: Round 4, 2019-20, Sydney 4-1 at Leichhardt Oval
The two teams are experiencing vastly different fortunes with Sydney enjoying a nine-point lead. Last-placed Newcastle sacked coach Ernie Merrick after picking up just one point in their last four games and conceding 14 goals in their three losses across that time. Sydney have scored the most goals and Newcastle have conceded the most so Jets' caretaker coach Craig Deans faces a massive task against a Sky Blues unit, who have taken 25 points out of the last 27 on offer, a run which started with a 4-1 home win over Newcastle.
Key: Milos Ninkovic - Sydney's veteran playmaker is scheduled to return from a rest last week and that's bad news for the Jets, who he cut apart in their previous meeting his season.
SATURDAY, Jan 11
Wellington Phoenix v Western Sydney Wanderers at Sky Stadium, 2.45pm
Head to head: Wanderers 10, Phoenix 8, drawn 4
Last clash: Round 9, 2019-20, Phoenix 2-1 at Eden Park
Wellington's Ufuk Talay was named the A-League's coach of the month and midfielder Cameron Devlin the best player for their December exploits, which included a defeat of Western Sydney at Eden Park. They are poised to improve their unbeaten streak to a club-record nine games. The Wanderers began the year with a 2-1 loss at Brisbane, continuing a slump that threatens to torpedo their finals hopes.
Key: Cameron Devlin - The former Sydney midfielder has introduced a bite that helps the Phoenix to play the possession-based game Talay has constructed.
Brisbane Roar v Melbourne City at Suncorp Stadium, 5pm
Head to head: City 13, Roar 11, drawn 5
Last clash: Round 3, 2019-20, Roar 4-3 at Dolphin Stadium, Redcliffe
The last meeting between the two teams produced the most extraordinary turnaround of the season with Brisbane overcoming a two-goal deficit to win. Roar have won only two of their last eight A-League games at Suncorp Stadium, where they have hosted just three matches this season and will be looking to post back-to-back victories for the first time this campaign. Both teams will be looking for greater consistency but City look to have more weapons, despite being without suspended defender Harrison Delbridge.
Key: Jamie Maclaren - The City sharpshooter bagged a hat-trick in their last encounter and Brisbane must shut him down this time.
Perth Glory v Adelaide United at HBF Park, 7.30pm
Head to head: Adelaide 18, Glory 15, drawn 10
Last clash: Semi-final, 2018-19, Glory (3-3, 5-4 on pens) at HBF Park
Two teams going in opposite directions meet in Perth, where the hosts snuck a thrilling semi-final win on penalties when the teams last met eight months ago. Glory have well and truly revived their season, up to third on the back of five straight wins. Adelaide's three successive defeats leaves them sixth and mulling ways to stop Perth's flowing attack built around evergreen Diego Castro and marksman Bruno Fornaroli.
Key: Paul Izzo - The Adelaide gloveman can expect a busy night but arrives in form, some exceptional saves keeping his team in the contest last week against Sydney FC.
SUNDAY, Jan 12
Central Coast Mariners v Melbourne Victory at Central Coast Stadium, 6pm
Head to head: Victory 23, Mariners 9, drawn 11
Last clash: Round 25, 2018-10, Victory 2-1 at AAMI Park
Have the giants awoken? Two straight wins have Victory sitting on the verge of the top six. Their 4-0 mauling of Newcastle not only hastened the demise of their former coach Ernie Merrick but signposted big improvements in their game. Robbie Kruse and Andrew Nabbout have started to fire up front while a defence still harbouring injuries looked assured. Central Coast are showing glimpses but a 90-minute performance eludes them.
Key: Leigh Broxham - The veteran's switch to centre back last week was a triumph, directing the defence and unleashing a series of searching balls from deep.
BYE: Western United FC