1,000-ish words, thoughts and musings on Round 7 of the A-League which starts in Sydney on Friday and finishes up with the F3/M1 Derby on Sunday.
Western Sydney Wanderers v Melbourne Sheep Cow Whale Ships, Friday – Spotless Stadium
Searching for a win to get them back into the top six the Wanderers head into this match needing to fix a leaky defence which has shipped a league-worst 13 goals (the same as Perth Glory who are fifth.) This is the first of four straight games in NSW with only one of those in Gosford away from home so Tony Popovic and his side are the most advantaged when it comes to the draw and will get ample training time in the coming weeks. Their combinations at the back need working on and the loss of former skipper Nikolai Topor-Stanley is evident with Artiz Borda struggling to adapt to the A-League. The visitors got lucky in Melbourne last weekend as the Jets should have had an early goal but got their act together to run out 2-1 winners.
Big game for: Ivan Franjic. It was great to see the Socceroo back after recent heart issues and he might even get the chance to shine on the counter-attack here if the Wanderers’ poor recent form continues.
The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Jack Clisby not hammering opponents. The former Perth defender fails to tread that fine line between aggression and attacking opponents with numerous rash challenges to date this season. He’ll be sent off at some stage in the rest of the season at this rate.
Perth Glory v Adelaide United, Friday – nib Stadium
Still searching for their opening win of the campaign Adelaide head into their fixture with the confidence they won in Perth in January, albeit with a very different side. Two goals-scorers from that game (Cirio and Marcelo Carrusca) are still on the books at Adelaide but the former is out injured (see Clisby above.) Speaking on injuries, despite a big defeat Perth Glory would have been heartened to have Rostyn Griffiths back in the side and he did play a key role in the build-up to their only goal in Sydney, however that was one of the few bright sparks on a bad day for Kenny Lowe’s side who started well but petered out after 10 minutes.
Big game for: Adam Taggart. Plagued by injuries in his time in the UK the striker is back in the Glory squad after missing recent weeks.
The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Dylan McGowan lashing home from set pieces for Adelaide soon. After misfiring one header early against the Roar the former Hearts defender must soon add to his three career goals for the Reds.
Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne Victory, Saturday – Westpac Stadium
Postponed to a date yet to be determined due to a range of factors impacting the stadium and surrounds since the Monday morning earthquakes in North Canterbury and related tremors. Full statement from the venue is here.
Brisbane Roar v Sydney FC, Saturday – Suncorp Stadium
Brisbane beat the Sky Blues twice in three games last season and the other fixture between the two sides was a scoreless draw so Roar coach John Aloisi can go into this game with some confidence. However given Brisbane only managed a draw against Adelaide in a game they probably should have won Sydney will sense a chance to extend their impressive start to the season. Sydney’s keeper Danny Vukovic will be unimpressed after Joseph Mills’ deflected shot broke his run of clean sheets – which was up to eight games. Brandon Borello is likely to be missing for Brisbane here.
Big game for: Jamie Maclaren. Back from Socceroos duty Maclaren will be looking to add to the three goals he scored against Sydney FC last campaign after failing to find the net in Bangkok.
The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: After trumpeting a range of ‘pseudo records’ such as consecutive games unbeaten (but not counting finals games) Sydney FC have some legit records to trumpet. 17 goals in the first six games is a record to start the A-League season.
Newcastle Jets v Central Coast Mariners, Sunday – McDonald Jones Stadium
Both sides have one win this campaign but despite the small return are arguably better to watch than this time last year. Connor Pain made some good inroads down the left flank for the Mariners in Canberra on Saturday so Paul Okon may have taken note of that ahead of this fixture with the veteran Jason Hoffman likely to come in for some attention. On the other side Ivan Vujica might get some more room to get forward and support Wayne Brown to create attacking opportunities. Wracked with injuries, one-time NSL player at Adelaide City Iain Fyfe has joined the Jets this week to shore up their defensive stocks in the wake of injuries to Daniel Mullen and Nigel Boogaard. (The Jets are so short of players when Boogaard went off the other night they played the last minutes with 10 men having already used all their substitutes.)
Big game for: Liam Rose. Mariners boss Okon made some very relevant points about Australia’s international youth level prospects when appearing on Fox Sports’ Sunday Shootout program in Sunday. This included points about Rose, a youngster he now coaches, playing more meaningful games.
The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: An exciting game. The Jets romped to victory in the most recent F3 Derby winning 4-2 in Gosford in the last round of the 2015-16 season after they also won during February at Central Coast Stadium.
The betting bit – One serious one not
The only Victorian side featuring this weekend now is $2.35 to win on Friday night and should get home even though they have only scored once in their two games outside of Melbourne this season. There will also be a comedy set of goal-keeping gloves behind the goals at Spotless Stadium to distract the visitors’ attempt on goal.
This preview first appeared on From the sideline of sport