After a disrupted start the A-League season is in full swing – and this week’s bumper seven-match schedule features a Grand Final replay.
History: First meeting
Final Thoughts: Macarthur FC, boasting a 3-2-2 record after seven games of their debut season, have bounced back nicely from their Matchday 6 thrashing at the hands of Sydney FC. Hammered 3-0 by the champs, the Bulls drew 2-all with Western Sydney – though letting the lead slip twice was a somewhat frustrating outcome – and picked up a 2-0 win over the Roar in Redcliffe on Tuesday.
Aleksandar Jovanovic and Aleksandar Susnjar scored the goals for Macarthur, who are still searching for their first win at Campbelltown Stadium.
Adelaide United are desperately in need of a palate cleanser after losing three of their last four games. They went down 3-1 to the Roar in Redcliffe, while they the Glory for 53 minutes last week before conceding two late goals and losing 2-1.
The Bulls are warm $2.10 favourites, but they are still finding their feet in the big time. United should be able graft out a draw as Macarthur’s Campbelltown itch remains left unscratched.
History: Played 2: Western United 1 V Sydney 1
Last meeting: August 15, 2020: Western United 2 d Sydney 1 at Leichhardt Oval
Final Thoughts: Western United’s sophomore season is trending towards disappointing so far, notching just one win and two draws from their first five games. After a scoreless draw against the out-of-sorts Victory, they led twice against the Mariners last week only to go down 3-2.
Sydney FC’s quest for a third straight title has begun solidly and without much fuss. They boast a 3-1-1 record, moving on from their loss to the Mariners with wins over Macarthur (3-0) and Wellington (2-1). Patrick scored a second-half brace against the Bulls, while Kosta Barbarouses bagged a goal in each half against the Phoenix.
Western United and Sydney FC split their 2019-20 clashes one apiece. An Adam le Fondre brace powered the Sky Blues’ 2-0 win in Geelong, but the newcomers grabbed a 2-1 upset in Sydney after the season’s resumption via a 90th-minute winner from Steven Lustica.
Great value in backing Sydney FC as only a slight favourite at AAMI Park, where Western United have a loss and a draw from two appearances.
History: Played 26: Western Sydney 12 V Melbourne City 9 (5 Draws)
Last meeting: March 14, 2020: 1-1 draw at AAMI Park
Final Thoughts: Western Sydney remain undefeated since their first outing of the season, chalking up three wins and three draws since. Wanderers twice fought back from a goal down to draw 2-all with Macarthur FC last Saturday – via spectacular strikes from Graham Dorrans and Simon Cox – then backed up four days later to put Melbourne Victory away 2-0 with a second-half surge.
Melbourne City FC, meanwhile, are trending in the opposite direction. Last season’s Grand Finalists had three games in the space of eight days – and lost them all. City were overwhelmed by the Glory (3-1) at home and the Mariners (3-2) and Jets (1-0) on the road.
Melbourne City boast four wins and a draw from their last six clashes with Wanderers. Last season City won 3-2 at BankWest before the teams produced a 1-all draw in Melbourne.
Wanderers are in a nice groove. Although the hosts’ 72-hour turnaround evens this clash out a bit, City are struggling for confidence and will do well to get out of Sydney with a point.
History: Played 39: Wellington 17 V Central Coast 15 (7 Draws)
Last meeting: January 31, 2021: Wellington 2 d Central Coast 1 at Central Coast Stadium
Final Thoughts: These teams met just a fortnight ago, with the Phoenix nabbing a 2-1 upset over the in-form Mariners. Jashua Sotirio scored the late winner after Ulises Davila’s opener for the Phoenix was cancelled out by Alou Kuol. Wellington’s winning streak against Central Coast now stands at six games. Just one of the teams’ last 14 encounters finished in a draw, while the last five have produced three-plus goals.
Wellington’s season in exile has otherwise started in disappointing fashion results-wise, but their losses from five games were all by 2-1 scorelines – including Monday’s defeat to Sydney FC. Davila only put the Phoenix on the board in the 93rd minute.
Central Coast have won five and lost two of their seven games, importantly bouncing back from both of their defeats to date with a win. The Mariners took another big step on their path to respectability by fighting back from a two-goal deficit to beat Melbourne City 3-2 last week, then twice fought back from a goal down to beat Western United by the same score four days later. Kuol scored two goals in the space of five minutes deep into the second half to snatch the win.
The Mariners boast two wins (both 2-0 against Macarthur and Sydney FC) from as many away games this season. The visitors are great value this weekend to at least share the spoils.
History: Played 42: Newcastle 16 V Brisbane 14 (12 Draws)
Last meeting: January 20, 2021: Brisbane 2 d Newcastle 1 at McDonald Jones Stadium
Final Thoughts: Brisbane Roar’s stirring four-match winning streak – which culminated in a 5-2 beatdown of the Victory – ended ingloriously via a 2-0 loss to Macarthur FC on Tuesday. It was a disappointing attacking performance from a side that had scored 13 goals in their past four games.
Newcastle Jets have rallied admirably after an 0-4 start, beating Wellington (2-1) and Melbourne City (1-0) either side of a 1-all draw against in-form Wanderers. Valentino Yuel scored the decisive goal against City, while Roy O’Donovan found the back of the net in consecutive games against the Phoenix and WSW.
After a seven-match winless streak against the Jets, the Roar have won the past two clashes. The teams have already met this season, the Roar getting up 2-1 in Newcastle.
But the Jets have turned a corner since then and could prove a tough nut to crack this time around. Either way, I’m expecting to see a few goals in this one.
History: Played 32: Sydney 14 V Melbourne City 9 (9 Draws)
Last meeting: August 30, 2020 (Grand Final): Sydney FC 1 d Melbourne City 0 (extra-time) at BankWest Stadium
Final Thoughts: Melbourne City FC get their first chance to exact revenge for last year’s A-League Grand Final loss. Rhyan Grant’s extra-time goal secured Sydney FC’s second straight title in the decider, the match finishing 1-0.
Sydney FC have won 10 of the teams’ last 12 games, though City have managed a victory over their heavyweight rivals in each of the past two seasons.
Both teams will be on a three-day turnaround from Saturday assignments. Unless City can turn around their poor form against Wanderers, it’s hard to see them upsetting the Sky Blues here.
Tip: Result – Sydney FC
History: Played 40: Victory 20 V Wellington 9 (11 Draws)
Last meeting: March 15, 2020: Wellington 3 d Victory 0 at Westpac Stadium
Final Thoughts: Melbourne Victory are the last cab off the rank in this round, playing a Wellington Phoenix side who host the Mariners three days earlier.
The bottom-of-the-table Victory’s season is shaping up as being worse than last year, with just a win over the Glory and a scoreless draw against Western United to show for their six outings. Last week they copped a 5-2 thrashing from the Roar and a 2-0 beating from Western Sydney.
After a remarkable run of five straight draws between the clubs, the Phoenix thrashed the Victory 3-0 in Wellington just before last season’s COVID-19 hiatus.
A leg-weary Phoenix could play into the Victory’s hands, but they have shown little this season to suggest they are capable of capitalising on a compromised opponent.