After a disrupted start the A-League season is in full swing – and there’s five crucial encounters set down for the fifth round of domestic football action.
History: Played 38: Sydney 20 V Central Coast 10 (8 Draws)
Last meeting: February 23, 2020: Sydney FC 3 d Central Coast 0 at Central Coast Stadium
Final Thoughts: Sydney FC have made a satisfactory start to their quest for a third straight A-League title, beating Wellington 2-1 before being held to a 1-all draw by Wanderers. Kosta Babarouses opened the scoring in the 63rd minute of last week’s derby, but the Sky Blues’ lead only lasted five minutes.
Central Coast’s bid to offload the wooden spoon started in sensational fashion, downing Newcastle (1-0) and Macarthur FC (2-0). But the Mariners were also thwarted by WSW, going down 1-0 at home on Tuesday with chances scarce.
Sydney FC are unbeaten in their last seven matches against Central Coast, winning five. The champs beat the wooden spooners 1-0 at home and 3-0 in Gosford last season.
It’s important for the Mariners to put in a strong showing and maintain their early momentum. But on a short turnaround, they could find the going tough against the champs.
History: Played 2: Western United 1 V Perth 0 (1 Draw)
Last meeting: August 12, 2020: Western United 2 d Perth 0 at BankWest Stadium
Final Thoughts: Western United are chasing their first win of the season, playing out a scoreless draw with Adelaide first up then going down 2-1 to Melbourne City after a 19-day break. Ivan Vujica opened the scoring for Western United but ultimately conceded the winner in the 84th minute.
After waiting until January 20 to get their campaign underway, Perth Glory made a blistering start via a 5-3 win over Adelaide. A Nicholas D’Agostino brace helped the Glory to a four-goal lead before they took their foot off the pedal in the dying minutes.
The A-League’s new boys had the wood on the Glory last season, holding them to a 1-all draw in their first-ever home match and chalking up a 2-0 victory when the teams met in Sydney after the post-COVID restart. Besart Berisha scored both goals in the latter win.
The Glory may struggle on a three-day turnaround from their season debut, but superior offensive artillery renders them a tempting bet here.
History: Played 47: Victory 25 V Adelaide 12 (10 Draws)
Last meeting: February 29, 2020: Victory 2 d Adelaide 1 at AAMI Park
Final Thoughts: Adelaide United’s unbeaten start came crashing down on Wednesday night, blitzed 5-3 by the Glory. The scoreline arguably flattered the Reds, who trailed by four goals before nabbing a couple of goals in the dying minutes. Adelaide kicked their season off with a nil-all draw with Western United and a 2-0 win over Melbourne City, but they seemed disjointed in Perth after a 17-day gap between games.
Melbourne Victory have only had one outing so far – an inglorious 3-1 loss at home to Brisbane on January 2. A hamstring injury to Marco Rojas sent a scare through the Victory camp, but the Kiwi is expected to be back on deck this week.
Adelaide United stretched their winning streak against the Victory to four matches with a pair of wins at home last season (3-1 and 1-0), but the Victory responded with a 2-1 success in Melbourne after trailing at halftime.
This is a difficult game to get a read on given Adelaide’s midweek shocker and the Victory’s lack of game-time, but I’ll lean towards the hosts here – and there should be a few goals on the cards.
History: Played 39: Wellington 21 V Newcastle 12 (6 Draws)
Last meeting: August 13, 2020: Newcastle 3 d Wellington 0 at McDonald Jones Stadium
Final Thoughts: Wellington Phoenix have a 2-1 loss to Sydney FC and a 1-all draw with Macarthur FC to show for their two matches to date. A controversial red card to Alex Rufer cruelled the Phoneix against the Bulls, who cancelled out David Ball’s opener just five minutes after the midfielder’s 62nd-minute dismissal.
Rubbing salt into the wound, Rufer will miss one game through suspension.
Newcastle Jets’ campaign is already on the ropes, rocked by an ownership saga and losing all of their first four matches. They lost 1-0 to the Mariners and have suffered three straight 2-1 defeats to Wanderers, Macarthur and the Roar. Valentino Yuel scored the Jets’ goal in the latter two losses.
Wellington have won three and draw one of their last five against Newcastle. But after 4-1 and 2-1 losses across the ditch last season, the Jets scored a 3-0 upset of the finals-bound Phoenix in August after the resumption.
The Jets have not been disgraced in any of their losses, but it’s hard to go past the Phoenix – who are due a bit of luck – on Sunday.
History: Played 44: Victory 18 V Perth 17 (9 Draws)
Last meeting: August 8, 2020: Victory 4 d Perth 0 at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
Final Thoughts: Melbourne Victory back up three days after their long-awaited second game of the season, while Perth Glory face their third game in six days after not taking the field until January 20.
The Victory are unbeaten in their last five matches against the Glory, winning four. Last season they bookended a 2-all draw in Perth with a 1-0 win at home and a 4-0 thrashing in Sydney after the season’s resumption. Marco Rojas scored a goal in each half of the latter success.
On the limited evidence to date, the Glory seem the obvious pick. Check back after the clubs’ respective Saturday fixtures for further analysis.