Photo credit: Macarthur Bulls
I’m very excited to be joining Football CFB to cover the A-League.
Every week I’ll be producing a roundup of all the goings on across the game in Australia and New Zealand and look ahead to all the weekend action.
The A-League games are usually filled with exciting, end-to-end attacking action, and I hope you’ll enjoy our coverage and pick up some of my passion for the game Down Under along the way.
There are some fantastic fixtures this weekend, so let’s get stuck in!
Adelaide United v Central Coast Mariners 8:00am BT Sport 1
Adelaide’s hopes of ending their long losing streak against the league leaders look desperately slim. Their collapse in the 4 – 0 loss to Macarthur last week will not fill them with confidence either.
The Mariners, on the other hand, are absolutely flying and will arrive at Coopers looking for their fourth consecutive win.
The second most prolific side in the A-League, they’ll be confident of testing the home sides leaky defence. Youngster Alou Kuol has scored five already in his first campaign, putting the Sudanese-born forward joint third in the goal scoring charts.
At the other end of the pitch, versatile defender Jack Clisby looks set to make his 150th appearance. Playing in the stingiest defence in the league, Clisby has plenty to offer going forward too, creating 19 chances so far this season.
Kuol is one of the most exciting players in the league right now and almost guaranteed to light up your Friday morning. Definitely one to watch.
Western United v Macarthur Bulls 6:00am BT Sport 2
Macarthur travel to the Mars Stadium, in search of their third win on the bounce. The Bulls head in to this fixture on the back of a 4 – 0 thrashing of Adelaide United and currently sit second in the table, a phenomenal achievement in their maiden season.
Veteran striker Matt Derbyshire scored a hattrick in the space of 25 minutes last week, and now sits joint top scorer in the league on five goals. The well-travelled Englishman, whose previous clubs range from Wrexham to Olympiacos, seems to be finding his feet after arriving from Cypriot side Omonia, where he enjoyed a prolific four year spell.
Keep an eye out for Beñat too, the former Athletic Bilbao and Real Betis midfielder is the beating heart of the midfield and brings a blend of creativity, experience and flair.
Western United will be well rested after their clash against Sydney FC fell foul of the five-day lockdown in Victoria. They have made a sluggish start to the 2020/21 season and currently sit in 10th, but do have three games in hand on the visitors.
WUFC threw away a 2 – 1 lead in their most recent game to fall 3 – 2 at the hands of Central Coast, and will most likely struggle to deal with the firepower of Macarthur too.
The first ever meeting between these two clubs is my choice for the Game of the Week.
Sydney FC v Brisbane Roar 8:00am BT Sport 2
The reigning champions welcome Brisbane Roar to the Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Saturday.
The club currently sit fifth in the A-League table, with three games in hand.
They will be hoping the return of a familiar face will help bring some much-needed firepower to boost their title defence. The A-League’s most prolific striker Bobô looks set to make his return against the Roar, three years after leaving Australia.
However, their former talisman is now 36 years old, and hasn’t replicated his prolificacy during spells in Turkey, India or Brazil since departing. They’ll be hoping he can recapture some of the form he showed in his final season, where the Brazilian notched 27 goals in as many games, helping Sydney to finish as Premiers, and lift the FFA Cup.
Despite not securing a win since their 5 – 2 thrashing of Melbourne Victory at the start of the month, the Roar will be confident going in to this fixture. They remain one of the most prolific sides in the league, with Dylan Wenzel-Halls sitting top of the goal-scoring charts. Brisbane born left back Corey Brown is setting them up too, with three assists so far.
Melbourne Victory v Newcastle Jets 5:00am BT Sport 1
The Victory sit rooted firmly at the bottom of the table, with just one win and one clean sheet in six games. Head coach Grant Brebner has called on unity and support from members and fans in the hope that home advantage can help them turn things around when they welcome the Jets to AAMI Park.
Newcastle’s Kiwi forward Marco Rojas is missing due to injury, but former Premier League pair Callum McManaman and Rudy Gestede are both set to return to the side.
And with the transfer window open, coach Craig Deans can also turn to new signings Apostolos Stamatelopolous, Liridon Krasniqi and Syahriahn Abimanyu, while defender Matt Millar has also returned to training after completing a hotel quarantine following the end of his loan spell with Shrewsbury Town.
The mid-table side will be hoping January’s Young Player of the Month Ramy Najjarine will be fit and can provide some magic to unlock the shaky Victory defence.
Wellington Phoenix v Western Sydney Wanderers 7:00am BT Sport 1
Wanderers are heading across the ditch to face a struggling Wellington side.
Former Wales international Carl Robinson has led the visitors to fourth in the A-League table. CFB readers will probably recognise lots of familiar names in the Wanderers set up including Scottish fullback Ziggy Gordon, West Brom stalwart Graham Dorrans and Rangers striker Kenny Miller, who is on the coaching staff.
Former Cardiff midfielder Jordan Mutch has also recently joined up with the side, following unsuccessful spells with Gyeongnam and Aalesund.
The Phoenix have been ravaged by injury, with Luke De Vere out with a long term injury and forwards Tomer Hemed and Jaushua Sotirio both sidelined. They will also miss David Ball following his 27th minute red card in last week’s 2 – 0 loss to the Mariners.
The English striker has received a two match ban, so the club have brought in forward Charles Lokoli-Ngoy to bolster their depleted attacking ranks. The 23 year old has previous A-League experience, making sporadic appearances for Sydney and Brisbane.
The DR Congo born Lokoli-Ngoy scored three goals while on trial for the New Zealand side in pre-season but failed to win a contract and was set to play for Marconi Stallions in the second division NPL. Having previously played under head coach Ufuk Taulay in the Sydney youth teams, supporters will be hoping that the new signing can hit the ground running.
Perth Glory v Melbourne City
The latest game to fall foul of COVID-19 restrictions has been rescheduled. City will now face Sydney on Tuesday, while Perth have to wait until next Friday for their next game, a home clash with Brisbane Roar.