Almanac Soccer: A-League 1,000: The Tactics Edition


1,000-ish words, thoughts and musings on the A-League’s seventh weekend of action. Some players are still heading back from international duty this weekend but most are available.


Melbourne Victory v Central Coast Mariners, Thursday – AAMI Park

Strange week in Mariner Land with an internal investigation underway regarding the leaking of team formations (or did someone outside the team guess the side and plant the seed of doubt somewhere?). A late comeback against the Jets will give the Mariners hope in Melbourne, however both sides scored late in their games on Saturday, but Melbourne’s strike gave them a two-goal buffer while the Mariners’ only helped them to a point, which about shows you where each side is at this season. Kevin Muscat has competition for spots with 20 year-old defender Dylan Murnane not only helping set up Bersat Berisha’s goal but solid in his fourth game for the season.

Big game for: The visitor’s defence. I’m still concerned about the Mariner’s defence and with Jake McGing missing it’s another shuffle for the Central Coast at the back. Tony Walmsley’s side was fine going forward against Newcastle especially given they faced 11 to their 10 but the Mariners boss will have in his mind the three goals they gave away in pre-season to the Victory at AAMI Park. Berisha scored twice that day.

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: A comedy banner, 11 actually, set up behind one of the goals from the Victory fans which has the Mariners starting eleven, in formation.


Brisbane Roar v Melbourne Sheep Cow Whale Ships, Friday – Suncorp Stadium

Henrique’s goal was not only significant in that it got Brisbane the win over Perth but now that the Brazilian-born forward is an Australian citizen it freed up a visa spot for the Roar, which allowed them to bring in former Cordoba midfielder Javier Hervas who provided the flick on in his A-League debut for the Slippery Fish to score. This duo will be crucial as it appears Thomas Broich is in doubt for the game as is Daniel Bowles. Matt McKay will be coming back from Bangladesh so it’s up in the air as to whether he features. But he did play in the days after Australia’s Asian Cup triumph so I wouldn’t put it past the 32 year-old to feature in some form. Speaking of Socceroos, not only did Melbourne light blues miss Aaron Mooy last weekend, they had two-cap Socceroo David Williams absent due to injury so the attacking combination is set for a reshuffle here. For a team that lacks continuity (even when Mooy plays) not been able to field a settled line-up is hardly ideal. But given Brisbane’s quick back-up and possible absences this is a good chance for John v’ant Schip’s side to snaffle something from the game.


Big game for: Aaron Hughes. The import has now made his A-League bow, but the former Fulham defender hits the field at a time when his club is struggling as Australia enters the hottest part of the year. Imports in the past have spoken of having to adjust to the heat, and with Hughes lacking match fitness, 33 degrees on a balmy night in Brisbane will continue a tough introduction.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Stefan Mauk needs to continue to shoulder the load even when Mooy plays as the Socceroo can’t do everything and with an under-strength opponent this is a big chance.


Western Sydney Wanderers v Wellington Phoenix, Saturday – Pirtek Stadium 

After a big win at home, the Phoenix start their travelling roadshow of the coming weeks with two games in Sydney. After falling behind early to Adelaide, Wellington asserted their dominance and looked far more assured than the previous weekend against the Central Coast. However, they face the competition’s in-form side the Wanderers who put Melbourne City to the sword 3-0. Dimas, Mark Bridge, and possibly Scott Jamieson could cause problems for Wellington in defence. Adelaide’s Craig Goodwin exposed the inexperienced Justin Gulley early in the game in Wellington so this is something the Phoenix will need to be mindful of. However Louis Fenton or Tom Doyle could replace the man from Stop Out in defence.

Big game for: Andreu. With Michael McGlinchey back for the Phoenix, the Wanderers’ import will play a key role in shutting down the former Mariner.

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Roly Bonevacia scored twice on Friday and also scored twice in the pre-season game between these two sides in Parramatta. The data tells us another goal here is likely.


Perth Glory v Sydney FC, Saturday – nib Stadium 

Instead of coming from behind late, Sydney had the chance to hold leads but couldn’t do so against the navy blues as the Victorians took the #bigblue bragging rights. Experienced players like Jacques Faty were caught out for Melbourne goals and one would think the riot act was read behind closed doors by Sydney coach Graham Arnold. Perth do have the ability to embarrass sides even though they have just a sole victory in the A-League this term. The Glory struggled with their timing on Sunday in Brisbane getting caught offside quite often but Kenny Lowe will take heart they caused problems from set pieces so a win isn’t out of the question here.

Big game for: Aryn Williams. A recent injury replacement signed only at the start of the month, the former Burnley defender acquitted himself well against the Roar, but Filip Holosko and friends are a different matter.

The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: Michael Thwaite was shifted into the midfield as Perth tried to change it up in the second half in Brisbane. I wonder if he will start there at home.


Adelaide United v Newcastle Jets, Sunday – Beer Sauce Burger Stadium

The woe of Adelaide was best displayed by the team-sheet last weekend in Wellington when George Mells, 18, was handed a starting spot over former Galatasaray and Estudiantes midfielder Marcelo Carrusca. Like many of his teammates, marquee midfielder Carrusca has massively under-performed this season but with no wins in five games Guillermo Amor had to try something. One would hope he sticks to his guns and starts Wells with Isaias and Jimmy Jeggo in the midfield again – Wells did help with the opening goal after all. It’s fair to say Newcastle dropped two points last weekend with Matt Sim scoring late for the Mariners. Maybe this is the inevitable result of having to shuffle the defence so much in recent weeks which saw panic ensuing when pressure was on late in the game when holding a slender lead. Milos Trifunovic was on target but could have been more clinical. He could dine out here.


Big game for: Radovan Pavicevic. When Leonardo exited the F3 Derby due to injury after he was collected by McGing, who was red-carded, Pavicevic came on in his place with David Carney moved into the centre of the park. The 20 year-old midfielder could expect to start here on the right flank and it’s not a bad game to do so against a weak Adelaide side.


The ‘I’m really looking forward to’ bit: A win for Adelaide, or a sacking. This season to date, Adelaide has lost to the four sides that finished fourth to seventh in the A-League last season. That statistic is slightly off as Perth were handed seventh on account of their salary cap rorting, but it rates a mention to illustrate how far backwards Adelaide have gone. Whilst I don’t condone sacking managers, the Reds management need to look hard at Amor if they lose again here.


The betting bit – One serious one not:


Thanks Wanderers, as we told you last week Melbourne City aren’t to be trusted until they gel as a team. For this week we go to South Australia for the $4.00 for Newcastle to beat Adelaide teased with free Josep Gombau masks for Reds fans. (Those were the days Adelaidans)


Profit: 35.95 units (ten units per investment)


Record: 4/6

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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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