1,000-ish words, thoughts and musings on part two of Round 23 of the A-League which starts in Melbourne on Saturday night, heads to Adelaide the next day, then concludes at Sydney Olympic Park on Sunday.
Melbourne Sheep Cow Whale Ships v Newcastle Jets, Saturday – AAMI Park
These two sides meet in Melbourne for the second time this season with Michael Valkanis’s side looking to bridge the gap to their city rivals who are 12 points clear in second but more realistically looking to edge ahead of Brisbane who are on 33 points as well but with a three-goal worse goal difference (six compared to three.) Between the two games the Victorian outfit and Newcastle have played against each other this season the home side has won each game 2-1 with the light blues victors in November but the Jets prevailed in Coffs Harbour in January. Interestingly Jet Andrew Nabbout and Bruno Fornaroli for the home side have scored the three goals for their teams across the two matches this season. Can this run continue?
Big game for: Tim Cahill. The veteran’s hopes of playing in the coming week for the Socceroos could hinge on his involvement here. Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou has made a point of wanting match-fit players, as well as seeing young players feature more often. Cahill isn’t young but it’s hard to see him featuring much if he isn’t rolled out for at least 30 minutes in this game.
The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Much has been made of the Socceroos squad with the Australians, currently third in their group, facing a crucial two games next week but another Australia squad has also been selected recently. Former Adelaide United coach Josep Gombau has named a development squad to head to Murcia, Spain and Jets defender Nick Cowburn was the only A-League player selected in this group for the eight-day camp. Cowburn, 22, hasn’t appeared for the Jets since Round 16 so will probably be glad to have some variety as opposed to training without playing.
Adelaide United v Brisbane Roar, Saturday – Beer Sauce Burger Stadium
Without a win across their last five games (three in the Asian Champions League, two in the A-League) Adelaide can actually claim some confidence coming into this fixture. The Reds won their last A-League home game (1-0 over Newcastle) and played well to get a draw on Wednesday night against Korean side Jeju United to get their ACL campaign back on track. However, John Aloisi’s Roar squad beat Guillermo Amor’s side 4-0 last time they met. Prior to that Sergi Guardiola, who has since left South Australia, got a goal 12 minutes from time to secure a point when the two sides played in November.
Big game for: After a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Kashima Antlers in Japan the fourth-placed Roar could be forced into a reshuffle here after skipper Matt McKay left the game in the 76th minute with a back complaint so they will need to shore up the middle of the park in his absence.
The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: After predicting a possible Boateng brothers style moment in future trans-Tasman fixtures low and behold Dane Ingham was called up for the All Whites who play Fiji twice in the coming Fifa window. Despite his recent attendance at a Young Socceroos camp Ingham, 17, hasn’t been capped at any level for Australia so is eligible to join brother Jai, 23, in Anthony Hudson’s squad.
Western Sydney Wanderers v Wellington Phoenix, Sunday – Spotless Stadium
Following their upset win in Seoul the Wanderers return home looking to secure their first victory at the former Sydney Olympics baseball venue which would put them three or six points clear in sixth spot – six if the Jets are beaten on Saturday. Tony Popovic’s team are yet to be beaten by the Nix this season with two wins (one in the FFA Cup) and a draw thus far in 16/17. Wellington will be shorn of several key players next weekend against Newcastle due to the international window so the Kiwi outfit need to get at least a point against a top six rival here.
Big game for: Lachlan Scott, who scored twice in the aforementioned FFA Cup game, found the net when opening the scoring against FC Seoul so starting Scott with Santalab coming on is a prospect here.
The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: The corresponding game last season in February saw now Mariner Blake Powell net four times to embarrass a side then near the top of the ladder. The Wanderers eventually made the grand final. Whatever the result something odd is bound to happen here.
The betting bit – One serious one not
Adelaide’s mini-season took a new (positive) turn with their effort on Wednesday and I think they can cause Brisbane some headaches and win here ($3.00) into a comedy sets of arrows aimed at the home goal on Sunday night at Sydney Olympic Park.
Profit: – $90.10 (ten units per investment)
This A-League preview first appeared on From the sideline of sport