A-League 1,000: The Ulsan Edition


1,000-ish words, thoughts and musings on round eleven of the A-League which also features a catch-up game from round five in Perth. So it’s double Glory and double Victory this week.


Perth Glory v Melbourne Victory, Wednesday – nib Stadium

Great schedule for Perth – after beating the Mariners on Saturday, they are at home again for the second of three consecutive games at nib Stadium. The return of Gyorgy Sandor helped and they came back well after the Mariners early forays on goal and strike for Roy O’Donovan got the visitors in front. Sandor and Nebojsa Marinkovic (who netted twice last weekend) in the midfield will need to be wary of getting caught on the counter when Perth lose possession on attack as Melbourne have the ability to return serve quickly.


Big game for: Team selection. Kevin Muscat will need to pivot his team selections in advance of the Melbourne derby at the weekend, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Olyroos squad member Giancarlo Gallifuoco get a start. The versatile 21 year-old came off the bench on the weekend and could expect more game time over the course of the next week.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Reading the match reports and catching the highlights/or a replay as I’ll probably spend most of the time watching J-League champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima versus South American club champs River Plate, who meet in a Club World Cup semi-final which kicks off half an hour after this A-League fixture starts.


Newcastle Jets v Adelaide United, Friday – Hunter Stadium

Last week we said Melbourne City wouldn’t score five goals in this game. We were right, but it was a close run thing. Newcastle started brightly but went on to lose 4-0 as they slip further down the log and face a surging Adelaide on Friday. Marcelo Carrusca is back in the swing of things in attack but defence will be a key as Guillermo Amor’s side have conceded at least two goals in each away game they have played this season. Newcastle need to work on their timing in attack after they were pinged 14 times for being offside in their lose to Melbourne City.


Big game for: Showing decorum #1: Adelaide players were ropable after one of their number was felled by Sydney’s Alex Gersbach. Yes, that tackle was bad but with over half the team rushing the referee and Sydney players it’s lucky physical contact such as a punch or otherwise didn’t occur. If teams persist with that sort of behaviour clubs should be sanctioned as well as players cautioned, or sent off, if deemed appropriate.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Seeing Scott Miller lock the door and throw away the key. A Qatari Star League club is reportedly chasing David Carney and now Ulsan Hyundai appear to have their hands on defender Lee Ki-Je who left Australia on Tuesday evening to travel to Korea for a medical. Miller might get his hands on some transfer fees for what remains of these contracts but if both go it will be a big lose.


Wellington Phoenix v Sydney FC, Saturday – Westpac Stadium

Despite some players with more A-League experience in the hot weather of an Australian summer, Wellington wilted in the heat late in Cairns. Actually, they wilted before that with Tom Doyle vomiting prior to the game due to the heat and humidity and not playing in the fixture. Ernie Merrick was rightly annoyed the game went ahead at the kick-off time of 4:15pm, and he has not berated his players as he normally would in the manner of losing after holding a lead at half-time. Merrick could shuffle his side for this game with Matthew Ridenton likely to miss out if Doyle is well. Sydney continues to set themselves out well in defence, as evidenced by the fact they didn’t concede their second goal until deep into time added on in Adelaide, but they need to break on the counter-attack quicker and maybe give Matt Simon more than nine minutes at the end when you are chasing a winner.


Big game for: Showing decorum #2: Graham Arnold must really reign it in. A decision in a sporting match is not criminal. Sydney’s creativity in the final third on the other hand…


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Jeffrey Sarpong, who played most of the second half, and Blake Powell, who got a run in the last 12 minutes, were seemingly the only bench options for Wellington with Justin Gulley plus Ben Sigmund still hobbled by injury and very much defensive options. Wellington’s bench will be interesting.


Melbourne Sheep Cow Whale Ships v Melbourne Victory, Saturday – AAMI Park

14 goals in three games, wins in three different cities. No, it’s not the reigning champs Melbourne Victory, it’s their derby opponents we are talking about. John van’t Schip’s side are tearing weaker teams to pieces at will, but face a big test here as they ‘host’ the navy blues. Ivan Franjic is looking very much a part of this team and when Ben Garrucio came on for Connor Chapman, the change was seamless as the 20 year-old was involved in many attacking plays. Muscat’s team will possibly be entering the game on a three-match losing streak so it may be a more circumspect approach with two players sharing the load to close down Aaron Mooy (as Newcastle tried to do last weekend) with Kosta Barbarouses and others needing to find some form on attack.


Big game for: The light blues. This is real deal territory now for City. Win here and they are genuine title contenders; lose, and it’s back to been just another team.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Veteran striker Archie Thompson is slated to come off the bench this weekend after suffering a medial ligament injury a few months ago, and the return of the former Socceroos forward is exciting


Perth Glory v Western Sydney Wanderers, Saturday- NIB Stadium

The Wanderers will be looking for eight wins on the trot, and the home side might be in search of three straight in the Saturday nightcap. Winger Romeo Castelen is in a rich vein of form for the away side who now rely on players like Scott Jamieson to play more of a part in attack and not just drive it through the centre of the park looking for an opening. Perth will spend much of this game trying to stop the Wanderers from getting crosses in but they do have their own attacking-minded players and maybe a few games in a row is what they need after a run outs was halted on Saturday.


Big game for: Andrew Redmayne. At his fourth A-League club and with his team on a good winning run, it would appear unless a disaster occurs the number one spot is his to keep. However Redmayne, 26, now has Liam Reddy looking for a start after joining the club. Not forgetting Reddy needs to dislodge Dean Bouzanis, formerly of Liverpool, from the bench.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: For something new after this game. Perth play next…. the Melbourne Victory. Will either side need to do video work that week?


Central Coast Mariners v Brisbane Roar, Sunday – Central Coast Stadium

Elsewhere, I noted Brisbane’s imports may not handle the heat well in Carins last weekend, but I was proved wrong and John Aloisi was astute with his substitutions. Steven Lustica and Jean-Carlos Solorzano both scored as the Roar showed more enthusiasm in the second stanza. The Mariners can play well in patches here, but if they nick an early goal Brisbane still have plenty in hand to be able to come back from behind. Nick Montgomery added some experience to the Mariners midfield in his return last weekend but Liam Rose will need to improve to keep his starting spot after some critical errors at nib Stadium.


Big game for: Paul Izzo. The Olyroos squad goal-keeper is now officially the club’s ‘number one’ after the departure of Reddy. It’s a lot of pressure ahead of the January qualifiers next month for the Mariners to play well here before Izzo possibly departs for the tournament in Qatar.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Lots of goals. Whilst the Mariners won’t win anything this season the fans want entertainment if not a win. The days of beating Sydney at home 7-2 are long gone, but a solid effort at the back means they are some hope of a result sooner rather than later.


The betting bit – One serious one not:

We should have rode the Wanderers bandwagon and this weekend there are plenty of away teams in the red but for the first time in a while we are going with Adelaide into a ballad from The Squadron at Hunter Stadium to David Carney. Something to the tune of the Fankie Valli and the Four Seasons classic “Can’t take my eyes off of you’ like ‘Don’t leave us Davey.’


Profit: 37.45 units (ten units per investment)


Record: 6/10


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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