1,000-ish words, thoughts and musings on round five of the A-League which starts in Brisbane on Friday night and concludes on Sunday afternoon in Perth.
Brisbane Roar v Melbourne Sheep Cow Whale Ships, Friday – Suncorp Stadium
John van’t Schip’s team could join ladder-leaders Sydney on points with a win here but they won’t have an easy time of it against Brisbane who have picked up a win (last weekend 2-1 v Perth) and draw in their two home games this campaign. Bruce Kamau and former Roar player Luke Brattan made plenty of the play attacking down their right half of the park against Adelaide and Brisbane coach John Aloisi will need to ensure those two are marked closely here.
Big game for: Neil Kilkenny. The former Leeds midfielder is crucial to the success for the visitors’ but he needs to stay on the park and his antics from the win over Adelaide will have referees keeping an extra eye on him.
The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Thomas Broich has been somewhat of the forgotten international player this season given he isn’t a guaranteed starter now. Does he still have the ability to lead his team with big efforts in consecutive games?
Wellington Phoenix v Newcastle Jets, Saturday – Westpac Stadium
Injuries and class were always likely to see a blip for the Jets after the opening month and so it was that they were beaten by Sydney, however if Steven Ugarkovic’s attempt had gone in things may have been different for Mark Jones’ team. Newcastle did not create as many chances on the weekend compared to recent weeks (four shots with only one on target) which will need addressing. Wellington were exposed down the flanks and some inexperienced told as they were humbled in Melbourne so a home game is probably just what Ernie Merrick’s side needs.
Big game for: Johnny Koutroumbis, the 18 year-old defender came on against Sydney and could make his first A-League start with the Jets’ defensive stocks still depleted. Newcastle are, more by accident than design, doing their best to win with kids.
The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Seeing the team Wellington runs out with next weekend. Sure Merrick will be focusing on this homes game but the Nix this week had six players selected for the All Whites’ November fixtures. Add Adam Parkhouse’s injury to the absentees and it’s a great opportunity for some youngsters but a headache for the former Victory Mentor heading into their round six game in Canberra.
Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory, Saturday – Allianz Stadium
Despite having only two wins the Victory are third on goal difference heading into the round, largely courtesy of their big win over the Phoenix, but Sydney FC have scored 11 goals across three games (one more than Melbourne) and are clear leaders. Alex Brosque’s return to goal-scoring form will be key with Victory finding their own goal-scoring nous on Monday night against Wellington.
Big game for: Danny Vukovic. Elevated to Sydney’s number one upon his arrival in the Harbour City the former Victory shot-stopper enters this game having not conceded a goal in A-League or FFA Cup.
The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: No more collarbone injuries. After James Troisi was injured in round one he returned off the bench in the five-goal win over Wellington but Daniel Georgievski sustained the same injury. I guess he’s back in week nine then.
Adelaide United v Central Coast Mariners, Sunday – Beer Sauce Burger Stadium
Despite their off-season personnel changes and injuries to start the campaign not many would have predicted Adelaide would come into this fixture after a month behind the Mariners but that is the case with the visitor’s eighth and Adelaide ninth. Skipper Nick Montgomery returns from injury for the Mariners with Socceroo James Holland back for Guillermo Amor’s side. Each side has scored four goals across the first four games, so based on that this game finishes 1-1 right?
Big game for: Seeing the former teammates in action. Coaching backgrounds can somewhat be over-played in the narrative ahead of A-League games but Amor and Mariners mentor Paul Okon, former teammates at Fiorentina, having played in the European Champions League together is a rare story in the A-League.
The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: The resumption of the W-League. Aside from the still ludicrous kick-off times for some fixtures the Lady Reds host Melbourne Victory in the first televised game from round one which precedes the men’s game here.
Perth Glory v Western Sydney Wanderers, Sunday – nib Stadium
In the first of Kenny Lowe’s full game in the stands after his suspension he saw his Perth side play well in patches but lose in Brisbane whilst the Wanderers should have beaten the Mariners. The sole Perth goal last weekend came after a crisp Diego Castro and Rhys Williams and they will need similar to break up a still shaky Wanderers defence. Western Sydney had a host of chances to secure a win and then, arguably, should have lost the game late in the match with a dubious call go their way after a possible handball.
Big game for: Wanderers promotion. Check your media publications for player profile pieces this week of Wanderers players if you want to find out who might be dropped. Last week Kerem Bulut was the subject of a least two pieces I saw before he was unceremoniously dumped from the match-day squad. Good way to promote your home games folks!
The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Shane Lowry’s defence will be key in this game, Perth have one clean sheet to their credit this campaign and will want to boost those figures if they are to stay fourth or push from there. They could finish the weekend in second spot.
The betting bit – One serious one not
It’s a good thing this column made a decent profit last season to cover our early profligacy in season 2016/17. Here we go for what we hope doesn’t turn out to be a VRC Oaks-like upset but Perth ($2.00) look strong hopes against the Wanderers into a ‘Free Kenny’ banner at the game in Perth.
Profit: -40 (ten units per investment)
Images via espnfc.com and abc.net.au