Almanac Soccer – A-League 1,000: The Hot Edition

@hamishneal

1,000-ish words, thoughts and musings on Round 13 of the A-League which runs from Friday until Monday and includes a game in Geelong.

Sydney FC v Brisbane Roar, Friday – Allianz Stadium
It’s hard not to continue to be impressed by Sydney FC and they host third-placed Brisbane on Friday night with the Roar also playing well, and unbeaten in 10 games. An Alex Brosque double highlighted the Sky Blues’ 4-0 win over Adelaide on the same weekend Brisbane got the lead but eventually drew at home to the Wanderers. Earlier this season these sides played out a 1-1 draw with cracking strikes to Josh Brilliante for Sydney FC and Thomas Kristensen for John Aloisi’s side back when Suncorp Stadium was in good order which showed how evenly matched this pair are. Although it’s worth noting the Roar are unbeaten in their last four games against Sydney FC.

Big game for: Early goals. Both goals in the last game between the two sides came in the first half

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Brisbane’s set piece defending getting back on track as the goal they conceded against the Wanderers was the first they have conceded all season.

Central Coast Mariners v Melbourne Sheep Cow Whale Ships, Saturday – Central Coast Stadium
It was only a first A-League goal for Trent Buhagiar which gave travelling Mariners fans much to cheer about on Wednesday night in Melbourne and they now face the other Melbourne outfit after that 4-1 defeat to the Victory. For the visitors they will be missing serial diver/general pest Fernando Brandan after he was sanctioned for his scuffle with Dino Djulbic in Tuesday night’s draw with Perth and John van’t Schip has probably given the rest of the team a few days off and just been drilling Bruno Fornaroli on penalty kicks after Liam Reddy kept two of his spot kicks out during the week.

Big game for: An effort. With rain and a top of 31 degrees forecast for Saturday Paul Okon’s team will need to display a strong effort, even if they don’t win, for fans to show up again throughout the summer. However given the Mariners conceded five goals the last time this Melbourne side came to Gosford the signs are not good.

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Seeing the Victorian tactics. On occasions in the Perth game Fornaroli was tracking back from attack and even Tim Cahill did some key defensive work. Tim Cahill to start at left back here?

Wellington Phoenix v Adelaide United, Sunday – Westpac Stadium
These two sides have combined for only four wins this season and Adelaide’s one triumph was in Round 9 against Wellington. Back at Westpac Stadium for the first time since November 5 the Nix will take heart from the fact they did hit the lead in Newcastle twice and are after an unbeaten month of football however, the Jets did dominate possession which Guillemro Amor’s side have the capability to do. With Kosta Barbarouses now in scoring form that’s useful for the home side. It’s worth noting Adelaide were not without chances against Sydney when they were beaten 4-0 but lacked efficiency in their combinations – a problem for both sides.

Big game for: Henrique. The championship winner scored twice in the first half when Adelaide beat the Phoenix in early December so he’ll be looking to continue the run.

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Kosta Barbarouses will have noticed Filip Holosko made plenty of ground down the flanks in beating Adelaide so the All White speedster will be looking for space on the wing here.

Western Sydney Wanderers v Perth Glory, Tuesday – ANZ Stadium
After their pulsating draw on Tuesday fifth-placed Perth play again in the east of Australia meeting a Wanderers outfit who sit on the same points (13) but behind the Glory on goal difference by a goal (NB. Newcastle in fourth are also on 13 points.) The Wanderers have had plenty of time to recover for this game and despite Kerem Bulut’s departure are the better placed of the two sides here given Perth played in hot weather during the week, have Djulbic banned and a seemingly unhappy striker in the form of Adam Taggart. Tony Popovic’s team have an easy home game here considering those circumstances.

Big game for: Red cards. Western Sydney have racked up a high foul count in recent weeks (17 last weekend) and given Perth got lucky with Marc Warren in Melbourne they will probably get unlucky here.

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: A win for either side. If this game is a draw, Newcastle are beaten on Monday night plus both Brisbane and Melbourne’s light blues win the gap between fourth and fifth in the competition with stretch to eight points. How about that salary cap eh?

Melbourne Victory v Newcastle Jets, Monday – Simonds Stadium
With nine goals in their last three games and not having to travel far for both games in the holiday period Kevin Muscat’s outfit are in a great position for this fixture. Newcastle showed great resolve to come back and nab a draw against Wellington and have managed to score in every game they have played in December bar when Sydney beat them. However in November the Victory beat Mark Jones’ team 2-0 in Melbourne.

Big game for: Marco Rojas. Such was the Victory’s dominance over the Mariners the Kiwi Messi was withdrawn with 27 minutes remaining on Wednesday night which is good for Muscat in planning the next few weeks’ line-ups but could be bad news for Mark Jones’ team here.

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Hopefully Newcastle continue to try to get high and wide in this game. They have nothing to lose and are an entertaining side to watch when they remain positive playing out from the back with speed and precision.

The betting bit – One serious one not
In position for a result away from home TBB was foiled again. Here we will go for Tim Cahill’s head to nod his team home, and probably more, ($1.50) against the Mariners into a comedy ‘still waiting for ADP to show up’ banner in Gosford on Saturday night.

Record: 3/12
Profit: -$67.30 (ten units per investment)

This preview first appeared on From the sideline of sport

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About Hamish Neal

Born in Lower Hutt New Zealand Hamish is forever wedded to all things All Black, All Whites, Tall Blacks and more. Writing more nowadays in his ‘spare time’ (what is that anyway?) but still with a passion for broadcasting. Has worked in various sports development roles in England, Northern Ireland and Australia.

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