A-League 1,000: The Garcia Edition


Brisbane Roar v Adelaide United, Friday- Suncorp Stadium

After getting embarrassed on TV last Friday evening John Aloisi and the Roar return home to match up against Adelaide who won easily against the Mariners. Given the Central Coast are yet to win away from home this season the result should be put in context but in a game of missed penalties Adelaide will want to make sure they take any opportunities on offer here. Henrique and Matt McKay ended up the most advanced of Brisbane’s players during their 4-0 loss to Victory so it shows how much the Roar are missing Jamie McLaren and Brandon Borello (both are unlikely to be available as they return home after the Olyroos’ pool-stage exit of the AFC Olympic qualifying tournament.)

Big game for: Replacements. For the first time really this season the suspension bug has hit Adelaide with both Jimmy Jeggo and Michael Marrone suspended so it’s a big game for Gulliermo Amor’s fringe players. Especially with Cirio also absent due to a hamstring injury.

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Brisbane variety. Whilst Matt McKay has great attacking ability at crosses and following up shots flung back out of the area if he is one of your more advanced players the rest of the side are doing something wrong.

Central Coast Mariners v Western Sydney Wanderers, Saturday – Central Coast Stadium

The recruitment of Luis Garcia is exciting for the Mariners who host the Wanderers coming off a Derby defeat. I’ve discussed the possible tactical use of Garcia, and other aspects of his signing, here. Tony Walmsley does get an extra attacking edge from the ex-Spanish international who is set to play in a ‘number ten’ role. Away from Garcia, the addition this week of Matthew Fletcher will help add depth to the striking ranks at the club given the suspension of Roy O’Donovan which still has some time to run, successful appeal or otherwise. The Wanderers had Mark Bridge, Romeo Castelen and Mitch Nichols run a lot through the middle of the Sydney FC midfield last weekend so the Mariners re-jigged line-up will need to be wise to that this weekend. However Sydney was happy to concede possession and let the Wanderers run at them. Given their new signing how will the Mariners change if at all?

Big game for: Focusing on defence. Attack is all well and good but when sides lose the ball they must respond. Storm Roux was made to work doubly-hard on Saturday when Fabio Ferreira was caught out occasionally. The Mariners must focus on defence immediately in those first few seconds when they lose possession.

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Seeing how the Wanderers go in the last five minutes. In their last two fixtures the visitors have conceded in the 85th and 90th minute respectively so Tony Popovic will have cause for concern well and truly until after the final whistle has gone here if the game is close.

Newcastle Jets v Perth Glory, Sunday – Hunter Stadium

With worries about unwanted A-League records buried at the northern end of Hunter Stadium after a 3-1 triumph over the Phoenix the Jets stay at home to host a Perth side who were lively against Melbourne City in a 2-2 draw. With Michael Thwaite off to Chinese side Liaoning Whowin and an inexperienced defensive combination set for another run out Kenny Lowe’s side face an interesting game here. Andy Keogh’s return is positive but with the inexperienced Aryn Williams, 22, at the back it’s probably the last time Perth want to face a Newcastle side who now have their tails up. Ryan Kitto put in his best performance of his A-League career last weekend against a sub-par Wellington outfit.

Big game for: Perth’s discipline, for the second week running, a player was sent off with 20 year-old defender Jacob Collard marched for a daft second bookable offence.

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: The Jets only negative last weekend was the loss of Ben Kantarovksi due to two bookable offences. Mitch Cooper came on later in the game and Cameron Watson would be a chance for a start. As we outlined last week Watson in particular needs a big end to the season.

Melbourne Sheep Cow Whale Ships v Wellington Phoenix, Monday – AAMI Park

In an odd quirk of the draw these two sides meet for the first time in the league this season but Melbourne City do have a 5-1 triumph to their credit from August when they secured an FFA Cup last 16 win. Aaron Mooy, Harry Novillo and Bruno Fornaroli all got on the scoresheet that night for the home side as did maligned marquee Robert Koren. For Wellington their only goal-scorer from that Wednesday night Roy Krishna is doubtful to feature much this season again, if at all, due to injury so it’s a hard fixture for the visitors who are two games into another three-game ‘road trip’ with their round 17 fixture to be played in Christchurch. Melbourne City’s embarrassment of riches mean they could hand a club debut to former Mariner Anthony Caceres and Stefan Mauk should be back from Olyroos duty in Qatar. Wellington’s Roly Bonevacia needs to get further forward to be effective in this game compared to last weekend.

Big game for: Youth. Melbourne City’s parent club are (in) famous for warehousing young English talent who could easily start elsewhere in the Premier League. Now that Manchester City’s Southern Hemisphere arm have ended up with Caceres ‘on loan’ how often will the 23 year-old start is key to his development. But at least he is a chance of starting after his recent exclusion from the main section of Mariners’ training he clearly needed a move somewhere.

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Seeing how Ernie Merrick tweaks his tactics. After only one win away from home this season in league (v Perth in round two) Merrick will have options to arrest the slide with the return from suspension of Manny Muscat. Plus Louis Fenton is back and Tom Doyle, who put in a good shift off the bench last Sunday is available.

Melbourne Victory v Sydney FC, Tuesday – Etihad Stadium

After seven goals in an 81-minute span the Victory are well and truly out of their slump and with Sydney coming off a Derby win this fixture should top off five nights of A-League games nicely. Sydney were content to concede possession to the home side last weekend in a tactic which ended up yielding a win. Sydney’s wider players could look to expose the inexperience of Stefan Nigro, who debuted last weekend, and Dylan Murnane if they are retained.

Big game for: Melbourne’s set piece defence. After Shane Smeltz snuck home a winner for Sydney last weekend, the second of two set piece goals for the Sky Blues, and after conceding at a corner against the Mariners recently it will be a significant work on for Melbourne in this match.

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Sydney’s strategy paid off in Parramatta but with Arnold potentially having Andrew Hoole and Brandon O’Neill back Sydney could change things up here. But maybe not if they go a goal up early.

The betting bit – One serious one not:

Wellington just aren’t doing it up front at the moment, Melbourne City ($1.50) should win at home into Luis Garcia getting welcomed to the A-League with a Ben Williams refereeing controversy.

Record: 7/16

Profit: 1.95 units (ten units per investment)

This preview first appeared on From the sideline of sport



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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