1,000-ish words, thoughts, and musings on round 21 of the A-League, the first round after both Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC have started their Asian Champions League campaigns.
Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne Sheep Cow Whale Ships, Friday – Westpac Stadium
A funny clash as the Phoenix enter this game having fallen to defeat at the hands of the Jets for the third time this season whilst the visitor’s secured their third win over the Mariners this term last weekend. With Harry Novillo serving the second match of a two-game ban imposed by the club it will be interesting to see if Ben Garrucio plays a more advanced role as he did last weekend in the 4-1 win. Wellington, who have used 11 different back fours in the last 13 games (thanks @Dale_Warburton), must stem the flow out wide or will get torn to shreds here. At least the club secured the services of skipper Andrew Durante for a further two seasons this week.
Big game for: Where to next? Heading into their game at Hunter Stadium the Nix had, and still have, scored more goals and had more wins against Newcastle than any other A League opponent so they had a history suggesting they would perform. But they didn’t and copped a blast at half-time from the coach even when they were ahead 2-1 which shows how below his expectations they were performing.
The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Alex Wilkinson has a shade under two months to develop more of an understanding with his new teammates ahead of a finals appearance. Aside from a few blips the game was another solid A-League appearance.
Western Sydney Wanderers v Perth Glory, Friday – Pirtek Stadium
After heading towards the sea and the coming back with a point Wanderers are back home but face a Perth side looking for six wins on the bounce. Kenny Lowe’s shrewd purchase of Krisztian Vadocz is paying dividends with the Hungarian providing a great platform at the base of the midfield for Perth to launch in attack. Tony Popovic welcomes back Alberto after his suspension which should solidify things in the Wanderers’ spine.
Big game for: Mitch Nichols and Dario Vidosic operated very well in attack playing a supporting role to Mark Bridge for the Wanderers at Allianz Stadium and the duo will get no let up here with a big support role required.
The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Some more attacking initiative. Josh Risdon might not be afforded the same room to scoot forward on the left here but the Socceroo is bound to try his luck.
Adelaide United v Brisbane Roar, Saturday – Beer Sauce Burger Stadium
The second-half specialist Reds nabbed a win in Melbourne when it appeared the game would finish 0-0 with both sides denied by various bit of woodwork at AAMI Park on Friday night. Brisbane (who we said last week) need to be more clinical in front of goal were, but also shipped six at the other end in a rollicking fixture. Jack Hingert was one who did well on attack but John Aloisi’s side need to focus on their role going forward and back. Guillermo Amor’s side do a good job of depriving teams of the ball and then playing on the fatigue factor late in the game and with the pace of players like Craig Goodwin so Brisbane’s backline will need to be aware of this.
Big game for: Away form. The Roar have won just twice from their last nine away fixtures. If they lose this game they could drop from second to fourth by the end of the match.
The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Seeing the reaction. Along the lines of not getting too excited about big wins (see Wellington round 19) don’t get sucked in by a big defeat such as Brisbane’s last weekend – they did score three goals. It’s often not as bad as you think.
Melbourne Victory v Sydney FC, Saturday – AAMI Park
After their 2-0 loss at the Saitama Stadium Sydney FC travel to Melbourne with David Carney, Brandon O’Neill and Matt Simon (all rested from the Urawa game) likely to play prominent roles here given they started in the Sydney Derby. This week saw the first in a series of games this season for both sides which we will see preparations disrupted by ACL and A-League games plus extensive travel. It’s a positive for the home side after their 2-1 triumph over Shangai SIPG. The ten-hour journeys aside, I get the feeling most players prefer playing to training three to four days a week. Captain Alex Brosque and Milos Ninkovic should be fresh to a degree having played the last 20 minutes in Japan on Wednesday. Melbourne get Kosta Barbarouses, who was key in their win over Shanghai SIPG, back from A-League suspension.
Big game for: Seb Ryall and Ryhan Grant. The wing backs were a bit more proactive last weekend in the A-League compared to their round 19 encounter when, at times, they broke in rather laborious fashion.
The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: More silky goals. From deep in their own half on the right to Oliver Bozanic who continued the switch move to Jai Ingham Melbourne’s first goal as the 22 year-old left winger slipped it past Yan Junling in the visitor’s net was a great display of speed and poise.
Central Coast Mariners v Newcastle Jets, Sunday – Central Coast Stadium
From #melbderby to #sydneyderby to #beachclassico as the #f3derby is the third side-by-side derby in the last three weeks. The two sides have nine wins between them this season, four of those against the Phoenix, so it’s mark of how poor the two have been despite various bright spots. Luis Garcia missed the defeat in Melbourne and Tony Walmsley should welcome him back here but they do loss Fabio Ferreira to suspension. Significantly for team balance, Jets’ coach Scott Miller has Mateo Poljak and Ben Kantarovski back from suspension which should be enough to see them home.
Big game for: Back-ups. The home side have been shorn of two key defenders with Jacob Poscoliero (suspended) and Storm Roux (recovering from three injuries sustained in the one play) missing here so it’s another backline reshuffle for the home side that have lacked any consistency in this area. Remember they released Eddy Bosnar at the start of the season.
The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: There was an excellent profile of Milos Trifunovic in the Newcastle Herald on Saturday but then the Serbian disgraced himself. The second half allegations of the striker spitting at Wellington’s Tom Doyle saw Durante and Trifunovic not shake hands at the end of the game. Referee Chris Beath (who didn’t see the incident) apparently included the details in his post-match report but nothing has come out for A-League HQ.
The betting bit – One serious one not:
Taking an away team this weekend, we wait until Sunday for Newcastle ($2.60) to salute into a brass band battle in Gosford as the Jets try to outdo the home side’s active support.
Profit: 31.55 units (ten units per investment)
Images via: abc.net.au and theguardian.com.au