The early weeks of the A-League schedule has been thrown into disarray by COVID-19, but this weekend’s revamped line-up features three intriguing clashes.
History: Played 23: Newcastle 8 V Western Sydney 8 (7 Draws)
Last meeting: February 25, 2020: 1-1 draw at BankWest Stadium
Final Thoughts: The pressure is already on Newcastle Jets and Western Sydney Wanderers to perform after underwhelming first-up showings.
The Jets crashed 1-0 to perennial cellar dwellers Central Coast in Gosford on New Year’s Eve. Meanwhile, the debt-ridden Jets owners were this week stripped of their A-League license.
Wanderers went down to new boys Macarthur FC by the same scoreline in Campbelltown. New coach Carl Robinson – who goes up against his old club on Friday night – will be hoping for more from attacking recruits James Troisi and Bernie Ibini.
Newcastle are on an eight-match unbeaten streak against Western Sydney and have won three straight at home. Last season the Jets prevailed 2-0 at home before the teams drew 1-all in Sydney.
The ownership uncertainty could have a galvanising effect on the Jets players in front of their home fans. The hosts are $2.88 underdogs, but the under shapes as a more prudent option in this one.
History: First meeting
Final Thoughts: Macarthur FC have endured the full range of A-League emotions across their first two games. The newcomers snared a 1-0 debut win over Wanderers after Mark Milligan found the back of the net in the 72nd minute.
But the Bulls were humbled 2-0 by reigning wooden spooners the Mariners on Sunday – their first outing at home base Campbelltown Stadium. The star-studded Macarthur line-up were frustrated by the Mariners’ newfound defensive resolve.
Wellington Phoenix competed well in their first outing of the season on Saturday, but they were ultimately brought undone by Sydney FC’s long-range brilliance in a 2-1 loss. Mirza Muratovic equalised for the Phoenix in the shadows of halftime before the champs went ahead again 10 minutes into the second half.
The heat is on Macarthur to bounce back, but I’m expecting the underdog Phoenix to emerge from this clash with at least a point.
History: Played 44: Victory 20 V Brisbane 16 (8 Draws)
Last meeting: January 2, 2021: Brisbane 3 d Victory 1 at AAMI Park
Final Thoughts: The rejigged A-League draw sees Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory lock horns for the second consecutive weekend.
The Roar powered to a 3-1 upset at AAMI Park last Saturday. The teams were locked at halftime after the Victory’s Callum McManaman cancelled out Scott McDonald’s opener. But Macauly Gillesphey and Dylan Wenzel-Halls scored in the second half to seal an emphatic result.
It was the Victory’s first outing of the season, while it was the perfect response for the Roar after losing 1-0 to Melbourne City at home first up.
The Roar are aiming to put an end to a four-match losing streak against the Victory at home. Last season’s sole clash in Brisbane finished 1-0 in the Victory’s favour.
Playing a more expansive style under new manager Warren Moon, Brisbane look the goods to grab a repeat win over a Victory side that has apparently picked up where they left off in a dismal 2019-20 campaign.