1,000 words, thoughts and musings on the coming weekend’s A-League action.
Melbourne Sheep Cow Whale Ships v Adelaide United, Friday – AAMI Park
Late drama in Adelaide saw the Reds home in the week leading up to the game that everyone, it seems, got a contract extension (except for you Nigel, you must got to Newcastle). Whereas Melbourne City featured in an unsurprising game which only saw five shots on target for City and Perth combined. How Melbourne’s light blues go on a relatively quick back-up after playing in hot weather on Sunday could prove critical.
Big game for: Josep Gomabu’s defensive formation. Does he opt for three at the back (which he switched to after falling behind to the Wanderers last weekend) from the start and pour on the pressure early?
The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: The home side forming combinations. Kew Jaliens and Josh Kennedy are no doubt good signings but Sunday had the look of a pre-season game about it. However it’s February and the finals are in May.
Newcastle Jets v Central Coast Mariners, Saturday – Hunter Stadium
The Mariners played better on Saturday than the result against Sydney FC suggests, as has been widely mentioned, but how will Phil Moss keep up the enthusiasm within the side? Playing a derby against a fierce local rival is a good start. Facing a Jets side who seem to be providing drama every week, this game could truly cut adrift a Central Coast side who are six points back from sixth if they don’t get a win, so it really is the period of the season that the new Mariners stars like Anthony Caceres need to elevate their play.
Big game for: The replacements for Ben Kantarovski and Andrew Hoole. Both players are missing due to suspension, and both have been two of the better performed Jets recently. Rookie Allan Welsh and Serbian recruit Enver Alivodic look set to feature but, like the above match preview, combinations with new players can’t be expected to gel immediately.
The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: The Mariners moving for a significant signing…Joel Griffiths signing for the yellow and navy late on Friday and netting a 95th minute winner would have been ironic. But it now won’t happen as the 35 year-old looks is bound for Wellington. The Mariners now lack an in-form ‘out and out’ front-man and given Griffiths business interests (the 35 year-old acquired a Newcastle-based Aussie Home Loans franchise in late 2014) his A-League career would have logically be best continued close to Newcastle. The Coasties have missed a trick there.
Western Sydney Wanderers v Sydney FC, Saturday – Pirtek Stadium
Mathew Spiranovic missing for the Wanderers is a blow but will be useful for Tony Popovic to balance his side’s ACL commitments after their dramatic late win over Kashima Antlers where they elected to rest players, such as veteran goalkeeper Ante Covic and fellow international Nikita Rukavytsya. It they win it’s a masterstroke, but it’s concerning the defending champions didn’t see fit to treat their opening group game with the proper respect given the A-League is a virtual ‘lost cause.’ Sydney FC prefer to play away from home it seems in season 2014/15 so Shane Smeltz, Marc Janko and co. will take their goal scoring talents to Parramatta in form.
Big game for: Sydney’s rear-guard. At the polar opposite to their attack, Sydney really need to shore up their backline. We have lauded the addition of Mickael Tavares and Jacques Faty but as part of a collective Sydney need to look to improve at the back, especially if they are to challenge for silverware.
The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: “Fireworks”, or a lack thereof. I know it’s a derby and your emotions are high, and it’s ‘your way’ of supporting your team, but memo to Wanderers fans – don’t light flares. They obscure play for people sitting behind you and they are dangerous. End of.
Perth Glory v Brisbane Roar, Saturday – nib Stadium
Plenty of action but only a point for Perth in Melbourne, meanwhile Brisbane were made to pay for their ineffectiveness in the final third in the ACL on the Gold Coast on Wednesday. Perth striker Andy Keogh got some comedy police sirens in his direction from the cheeky home fans in Melbourne last weekend but he is back in familiar surrounds this weekend and will look to redeem himself after recent off-field misdemeanours.
Big game for: Jerome Polenz and Jean Carlos Solorzano. This pair are the unlucky duo for Brisbane who miss out on ACL action because of allowances for foreign players from clubs to play in the competition. Expect both of them to have a point to prove here, and in coming weeks.
The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: A rare game played in the west played at a reasonable time. Due to their lack of ‘star’ power and time difference, Perth often get lumped with the early timeslots for matches played in normally hot conditions so it’s nice to have the Glory playing at a reasonable time locally .
Melbourne Victory v Wellington Phoenix, Sunday – AAMI Park
After an unexpected break between games, Melbourne face a Wellington side who peppered the Jets goal late at the Hutt Rec but despite managing an equaliser probably didn’t get due reward for their domination. With Griffiths to join the New Zealand franchise it might be a prod for the Wellington front-men to finish their chances when they get them as the Jets championship player could feature on the bench this weekend. Melbourne face the prospect of entering the run-in for the finals without Adrian Leijer who looks bound for the Chinese Superleague, which will be of concern to Victory fans as it leaves a big hole experience wise in their rear-guard. However the return of Matthieu Delpierre does negate the loss of the 28 year-old somewhat.
Big game for: Archie Thompson. Would anyone count against the Socceroos veteran scoring the winner in his 200th game?
The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Less fouls in a Nix game. We always hear about player welfare when it comes to heat but what about injury? Fouls are a consistent pattern for Wellington to deal with recently – the Phoenix have now had 70 fouls on them (28 coming from the Jets) in the last three games combined. If certain news outlets are going to push the barrow that Wellington are dragging down the competition they need to look at their opponents, who aren’t allowing them to play the game. Flowing attractive football has an impact on fans wanting to watch their games live and, by extension, neutral fans wanting to watch their games on tv.
The betting bit one serious one not
Adelaide to win @ $2.50 on TAB with no Damien Duff and the afore-mentioned new additions still to gel the Reds are to advantage here in Melbourne and should get all three points into a red card somewhere this round, especially given there are two derbies.
Profit: 34.70 units (based on ten unit investment) and we have steadied the ship
Record: 10/18 Sydney…just.