Just two days after the end of MW9, we’re in to the next round of fixtures.
The fun certainly never stops in the A-League!
There are plenty of big clashes this week, so without further ado, let’s take a deep dive in to all the action awaiting us Down Under…
Perth Glory v Brisbane Roar – 10am BT Sport 1
Perth Glory welcome second placed Brisbane Roar for their first home game in 37 days!
Perth haven’t played a game since their 2 – 1 victory at Adelaide at the beginning of the month, so should be well rested heading in to the game. Glory currently sit 8th on the ladder, but they have a varying number of games in hand over every other team in the A-League. Despite playing four games less than the league leading Mariners, they have scored almost as many goals and convert nearly double the amount of chances of other sides, with both Bruno Fornaroli and Nicholas D’Agostino grabbing an impressive four goals in five games!
Former Preston midfielder Neil Kilkenny is leading the league in assists, creating five in five, so if the 35 year old can find a way through the Roar defence, you will expect one of their in-form forwards to take their chance!
Brisbane remain one of the A-League’s most prolific sides, tied third with Macarthur on 13 goals, though they have failed to find the back of the net since their 5 – 2 demolition of basement dwelling Melbourne Victory back on February 6th. Previous leading goal scorer Dylan Wenzel-Halls has fallen down the ladder after a prolific weekend for his golden boot rivals, however, he looked really lively against Sydney FC on Saturday, and head coach Warren Moon will be hoping he can get the 23 year old firing again. Golgol Mebrahtu came off the bench for his debut and looked dangerous, so perhaps he may offer an alternative threat for the visitors. I hope so, as I am waiting to unleash a ‘Goal for Golgol’ headline…
Goals may have dried up in recent weeks, but Brisbane have really solidified at the back. Jamie Young had an excellent showing against Sydney, denying the returning Bobô a dream return with a fantastic block from close range. Their defensive solidity on the weekend was personified by the performances of captain Tom Aldred too, who essentially played 50 minutes on one leg after tweaking his hamstring towards the end of the first half. Despite many expecting him to be withdrawn, the Scotsman played the remainder of the game with a strapped thigh and was a brick wall in defence.
Roar fans will breathe a sigh of relief as head coach confirmed to the media that Aldred had trained all week and their captain be available to face the Glory.
If you only watch one A-League game this weekend, make it this one!
Western Sydney Wanderers v Adelaide United – 6am BT Sport 2
Fourth place Wanderers will be looking to get back to winning ways after their frustrating draw with Wellington Phoenix. Western Sydney missed suspended Graham Dorrans in the centre of the park, and struggled to break down the negative New Zealand outfit. They managed to claw themselves back in to the game in the second half, taking the lead with two goals in the space of seven minutes, only to switch off and concede an equaliser from a set piece. Carl Robinson’s men will be annoyed at throwing away the two points at the end, and the former Wales international will expect a strong reaction against the Reds.
Fan favourite Mitch Duke made a short cameo from the bench after re-signing on loan and looked decent in the quarter of an hour we saw of him. I expect to see more of the Duke of Western Sydney this week…
The visiting Reds will be confident after their shock victory over the table topping Central Coast Mariners. However, outside of Tomi Jovic’s three controversial penalties, Adelaide didn’t look a real threat. They showed determination to come back from behind twice, and Stefan Mauk caused the Mariners problems on the break to win two of the three penalties.
Adelaide will want to soak up pressure and hit the home side on the break, but if Western Sydney turn up, keep the ball well in midfield and enforce their game plan on the visitors, I’d expect a home victory for the Wanderers.
Melbourne Victory v Western United – 8am BT Sport 2
It’s been an abysmal start to the season for the Victory. There have been well publicised off-field issues this week, while on the pitch Grant Brebner’s men have been poor and depleted by injuries.
Heading in to their bottom of the table battle with Wellington Phoenix on Wednesday, they hadn’t won a game since January and hadn’t scored a goal in 240 minutes, but the Boys in Blue broke both their losing streak and their goal drought in an important 2 – 0 win at AAMI Park.
Victory will hope this represents a turnaround in form, but injuries could prove to be a stumbling block. Ryan Shotton, Marco Rojas and Dylan Ryan were all withdrawn in midweek, adding to a worryingly long injury list. It remains to be seen if Shotton and Rojas will be long-term absentees from the side, but things don’t look good for on-loan youngster Ryan could be seen on crutches on the sideline.
Western United were excellent against Macarthur in the previous round. Despite the Bulls pinging the ball around the park and retraining possession, United were solid at the back and lethal going forward. Iker Guarrotxena was sublime, but there were standout performances across the park, and if the likes of Kurto, Imai, Diamanti and Berisha replicate their previous performance, it could be a tough day at the office for the Victory.
After leapfrogging Wellington Phoenix, just one point separates the Victory and their Melbourne rivals, which will add some extra spice to this Victorian derby.
After his stellar performance last week, I’m picking Iker Guarrotxena as my one to watch in MW10. Keep an eye out for more Basque magic from the Spaniard…
Sydney FC v Macarthur FC – 5am BT Sport 3
Sydney’s biggest issue heading in to this clash with Macarthur is going to be their fitness. This will be the third game in eight days for the Sky Blues, and there’s probably no worse team to come up against if you’re lacking in energy than the Bulls. The Sky Blues confirmed on Thursday that they will also head in to the fixture without Luke Brattan, following the midfielder’s nasty looking head injury on the weekend.
Macarthur have impressed in their debut A-League season, playing an exciting, attacking brand of possession football that has seen them challenging at the top of the ladder. The side have attempted more shots (144) than any other side, have the most passes (4,851) and highest pass completion rate (85%) in the league, and in veteran English striker Matt Derbyshire, they have a proven goalscorer. Macarthur will look to keep the ball and wear Sydney out, like they attempted against United last week.
The home side will do well to borrow from the Western United playbook and absorb pressure before hitting the Bulls on the counter, using width to get past the oft-compact cross Sydney rivals. Macarthur are poor at the back and goalkeeper Adam Federici has one of the worst records in the league. If Barbarouses and Bobô can combine well up top, their combination of pace and experience could be key for the home team.
Newcastle Jets v Wellington Phoenix – 7am BT Sport 3
The Jets flew in to the top half of the table (see what I did there) following their 1 – 0 victory over Melbourne Victory on Sunday. It was far from a thriller, with Angus Thurgate grabbing the only goal of the game in the 72nd minute.
Newcastle will be hoping to come away with the three points again as they face fellow strugglers Wellington Phoenix. The ‘Nix now sit bottom of the ladder after their midweek defeat to the Victory, and have been poor in their last few fixtures.
They’ve been playing a counter attacking game in the last two fixtures, soaking up pressure before relying on balls over the top to Reno P or the expectation that Mexican attacking midfielder Ulises Dávila can create something with a bit of magic. The lack of attacking options has hurt the Kiwis, and they threw away plenty of good chances through lots of basic errors and simple mistakes when in possession seemingly in on the opposition goal on Wednesday.
At the back they’re clearly missing the experience of Luke De Vere, who is out with a long term injury, and the Wellington defence gave away set pieces through silly fouls or poor clearances that handed Gestede his winning goals.
There are promising signs for Wellington. The counter attacking game can work, as we saw in the draw with Western Sydney Wanderers, however, they’re missing an experienced head at the back and look panicked when they try to park the bus to see out games.
Dávila, Rufer and Piscopo have played well over the last few games, and Cammy Devlin is bringing maturity and experience beyond his years to the midfield. They’ll be glad to see the return of David Ball, who is available for selection again after serving his two match ban, and head coach Ufuk Talay will be hoping the Englishman will prove to be more clinical in front of goal and take pressure off youngster Ben Waine. Former Brighton striker Tomer Hemed is also nearing a return from a hamstring injury, and may make the bench for the trip to the McDonald Jones Stadium.
Western Sydney Wanderers v Melbourne City
Wanderers have just two days to prepare for their clash with Melbourne City.
City were unbelievable at times against Sydney, their fresh legs and an extended spell on the training ground paying dividends against the defending champions. They were disciplined, well drilled and clinical in front of goal, and at times looked unplayable, before the introduction of Ninkovic led to a late collapse.
Despite almost throwing away their lead late on, they held out and the win will give Patrick Kisnorbo’s team some confidence heading in to this week’s fixture. They’ve shown what damage they can do against a fatigued side, so it will be interesting to see how Carl Robinson manages his squad ahead of this game.
Maclaren grabbed a couple of great poachers goals against Sydney, while a returning Andrew Nabbout and former Cardiff man Craig Noone were deadly from the wings. Wanderers have one of the largest squads in the A-League, but a much-changed side stuttered against Wellington Phoenix. If Robinson gets his squad selection wrong here, the City forwards could be dangerous once again.
Perth Glory v Central Coast Mariners
Home games are like buses… you wait 888 hours for one, and two come along at once!
Glory welcome the surprise league leaders for the final game of the round, and the Mariners will be looking to get things back on track after their shock loss to Adelaide last week. Speaking after the defeat, Mariners head coach Alen Stajic said that the loss would provide more “fire in the belly” for his “underdogs”, so it will be exciting to see how his side responds. Jack Clisby was named in A-League the team of the week following his strong performance in his 150th game and remains one of the league’s biggest attacking threats, while all eyes will be on breakout star Alou Kuol once again.
There’s quite understandably much excitement surrounding the 19 year old’s emergence, but you have to praise the way Stajic and the Mariners have managed his involvement. Whether he starts or comes off the bench remains to be seen, but you can almost guarantee that the league’s leading goal scorer will make an impact.