1,000-ish words, thoughts and musings on Round 23 of the A-League which, despite getting told earlier in the season by the FFA weekends without full rounds would confuse fans over ladder implications, sees only two fixtures. A couple of short passes here.
Sydney FC v Central Coast Mariners, Friday – Allianz Stadium
Graham Arnold’s side have put seven past his old club in their two games this season for 4-0 and 3-2 wins respectively. Back in October Filip Holosko scored twice in the four-goal triumph but Paul Okon’s side improved and were beaten in controversial circumstances having drawn level with 14 minutes to go only to see Sydney FC’s David Carney net, when apparently he was offside. Former Sydney FC player Jacques Faty is back into the match-day squad for the visitors who are haven’t tasted success in their last eight games against the Sky Blues – with seven losses and one draw.
Big game for: An eye to the next few weeks. With possibly two players (Danny Vukovic and Rhyan Grant) bound for Socceroo duty Arnold may look to re-jig his side in advance of their absence in Round 24 when the runaway ladder-leaders travel to Perth.
The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Former Sydney shot-stopper Ivan Necevski entered the fray when the Mariners’ top keeper Paul Izzo was sent off in Gosford last weekend. Okon could play Necevski here, or give 20 year-old Adam Pearce a chance to add to his two A-League starts.
Melbourne Victory v Perth Glory, Saturday – AAMI Park
Back in January Nebosja Marinkovic and Adam Taggart salvaged a win for Perth after Melbourne had the lead courtesy of a Besart Berisha penalty in the west. Prior to that in December when the two sides last met in Melbourne the home side came from behind to pick up a point – but it was a game they dominated. Interestingly, Perth have gone okay in the Victorian capital this season having knocked off the Melbourne light blues 3-2 in October courtesy of an Andy Keogh hat-trick. Should Sydney triumph on Friday evening and Kevin Muscat’s side fail to win this game the Sky Blues will seal the Premier’s Plate which would be their first piece of silverware in seven years.
Big game for: James Troisi. The attacker helped draw the penalty last time these sides met and his missed free kick from last weekend could have earnt the Victory a draw in Sydney. Named in the latest Socceroos squad this week, a successful game – plus a free kick going in – could do wonders for his confidence.
The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Looking like he was bound for top of the table Sydney after a frustrating start to the year in Perth, Rhys Williams has been named in the Socceroos squad for their fixture in Tehran followed by their game in Sydney on March 28. Whether he makes the final 23 will be found out after this weekend’s games.
The betting bit – One serious one not
This section of the column is becoming like alternative facts and with only two games this weekend let’s be sensible and pick Sydney FC for a minimal return ($1.22). Actually, we should have just done this every game. But what would be the fun in that? Our comedy this weekend will be a wordly goal in Vince Lia’s testimonial match at David Farrington Park in Wellington.
Profit: – $92.30 (ten units per investment)
This preview first appeared on From the sideline of sport