A-League 1,000: The Statistics Edition

@hamishneal

1,000-ish words, thoughts, and musings ahead of Round 23 of the A-League which features a Saturday triple-header.

Adelaide United v Melbourne Sheep Cow Whale Ships, Friday – Beer Sauce Burger Stadium

Melbourne’s light blues, who can move to within a point of Adelaide here, will be most pleased they kept Sydney from scoring on Saturday night but another clean sheet looks unlikely here. Guillermo Amor’s team have a variety of attacking options and have Isaias available again after seeing off Wellington 4-0 at Westpac Stadium. The away side have Anthony Caceres (who seems to be missing every second game for his new club) absent so perhaps a reshuffle will be in order in the midfield for John van’t Schip.

 Big game for: Defence. With seven clean sheets in their last 12 domestic competition encounters Adelaide will need all of their defensive steel in this encounter with the away side having scored 16 more goals than any other side this season.

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: On the flip side Adelaide had four different goal-scorers last weekend. What variety will they bring to this game?

Sydney FC v Wellington Phoenix, Saturday – Allianz Stadium 

Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold is set to run out a changed side with four players: Seb Ryall, Ryhan Grant, Jacques Faty and David Carney all back from suspension here with Wellington only likely to bring in veteran defender Ben Sigmund after their heavy defeat at the hands of Adelaide. Wellington have a draw and win in Sydney in the last 16 months so recent history, and the fact Sydney has only one more win this season, indicates a close a game.

Big game for: Controversy. From the venue and teams that were involved in the ‘Hand of Payne’ match comes a fixture with referee on exchange from Japan. Having officiated an A-League game two years ago and a veteran of eight years controlling J-League fixtures, Takuto Okabe returns to Australia for his second local appointment. Arnold is flat out having a happy time with local officials after last weekend. Saturday could be fun post-game.

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Useless stats. Fresh from an early season push about their ‘unbeaten’ run away from home (which forgot their grand final defeat) Sydney FC proudly exuded the fact they have the second most passes (1485 to be precise) into the final third of any side in the A-League. I realise the irony my repeating the statistic broadens the knowledge of it. Be that as it may, I look forward to another fun stat next week from Sky Blues HQ.

Brisbane Roar v Melbourne Victory, Saturday – Suncorp Stadium 

Both sides are coming off victories but Brisbane’s was certainly the more dramatic after an 83rd minute winner in a five-goal thriller. Melbourne will be without Kosta Barbarouses who is serving the second game of his two-match ban which could be challenging for the Victory, especially given some Brisbane players like Matt McKay can focus on the league after being left out of the latest Socceroos squad.

Big game for: Experience. Despite the topsy-turvy nature of the game Thomas Broich just looks right starting the game. Roar coach John Aloisi would be game to toy with the use of Broich, and other key players in the run up to the finals. Unless things go really wrong.  

 The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Proper use of medical terms. The Victory stated Oliver Bozanic is available again after a ‘mild concussion’. I’m not a doctor but I know medical experts don’t use that in terminology related to concussions. Recently I wrote a piece about concussion in junior sport and the importance of return to play protocols, using the throwaway term ‘mild’ belittles the importance of recovery from concussion.

Perth Glory v Central Coast Mariners, Saturday – nib Stadium 

If ever Perth wants a game to help cement their new top six spot it’s against the Mariners who are struggling. The Glory are one of the sides the Central Coast have beaten to record their miniscule total of three wins this season but that was game one and both sides are vastly different squads now. Michael Neill’s suspension is a particular blow given the Mariners have already lost Storm Roux recently but Nick Montgomery’s return is a plus. Kenny Lowe’s side should be almost unchanged.

Big game for: Real deals. The Glory could end the weekend in fifth. When does complacency creep in?

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Buy-in. During the Coast FM coverage on Sunday Mariners squad ‘keeper Tom Heward-Belle revealed (half jokingly) winger Mitch Austin had injured himself after driving from Sydney. It was an off-hand line but was illustrative of where the club is at. Austin is still commuting from Sydney? Remember when this was the buy-in the club had? This is not a slate on Austin and he is not the only player doing this commute.

Newcastle Jets v Western Sydney Wanderers, Sunday – Hunter Stadium 

Back at home after defeat in Perth the Jets look to restore their good record and given they have scored five goals in their last two home fixtures an exciting contest looks in prospect. However the defence could be an issue with suspension hitting Scott Miller’s side. Nikolai Topor-Stanley is back for the Wanderers.

Big game for: Jets depth. With Jason Hoffman and Daniel Mullen missing due to suspension, coach Miller’s depth will be sorely tested against a Wanderers side who get striker Mark Bridge back.

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Western Sydney could go top on Sunday evening if both Melbourne sides win and this sort of motivation could be what is needed to fire up Tony Popovic’s side against an inconsistent Jets outfit.

The betting bit – One serious one not:

We keep rolling with Perth this weekend ($1.45) to beat the Mariners in the west into a comedy counting up of Sydney passes into the final third by the Cove. Can they crack the 1,500 mark in this game?

Record: 13/22

Profit: 53.05 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.

Comments

  1. Dennis Gedling says

    Roar’s defence is the one thing that is going to kill them in the end. Too many old men while a potential Socceroos in Luke DeVere for whatever reason hardly gets a game. Their exciting to watch for the neutral I guess shipping goals at the back and Jamie MacLaren up front.

Leave a Comment

*