Friday, 16 October 2015

PREVIEW: Hyundai A-League Round 2


Adelaide got their season off to a decent start with a goalless draw against reigning champions Melbourne Victory. In a match that was even from the get go, Adelaide were not able to find a break through the Victory’s defence, although new boss Guillermo Amor will take confidence from the squads attacking play having come up with 10 shots at Danny Vukovic’s goal. At the other end of the pitch saw the first team debut for John Hall who put in a solid performance in front of goal keeping out the likes of Berisha, Khalfallah and Barbarouses. Hall will be receiving even more opportunities to prove himself in front of goal due to Eugene Galekovic being out for up to 6 weeks with a knee injury.

Western Sydney had a horror first 45 minutes of season 11, conceding 3 in a first half rout by the Roar. 9 minutes into the match Jamie Maclaren had struck with a precise chip over the top of an encroaching Andrew Redmayne. Whilst the Wanderers weren’t behind for long when Mitch Nicholls slotted the ball past Theo. Things only got worse though as Brisbane pushed on to make it 3-1. Wanderers had a 19 shots on goal, which is a positive sign going forward for Tony Popovic moving forward to a clash with the reds this weekend, although with a host of new faces, it was evident last week that the squad is yet to gel with one another, facing a daunting trip to Hindmarsh Stadium where Wanderers have only won 1 of the past 5 matches.

I am not expecting a lot from the Wanderers this week, if I can see a positive performance and the team looking as if it is coming together playing a good brand of football and for one another, I’d be satisfied. Adelaide will want to kick start the season after last week's’ draw against Victory and I think they will be able to get across the line. I expect another big performance from John Hall as he looks to stamp his name on the role.

Keegan's Tip: 2-0 Adelaide
Alex's Tip: 2-1 Wanderers
Ty's Tip: 3-1 Adelaide

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Newcastle began the new season with an unexpected win across the ditch in Wellington. The Jets have always struggled against Wellington and with a new coach and a few new faces coming into the side, it seemed as if the Jets might struggle. Half hour into the contest things began to look bright for the Newcastle lads when David Carney nodded home the opening goal of the match. Although on the stroke of half time, it was a case of same old story with the Jets throwing away a lead, when Roly Bonevacia slotted home a scrappy play in the box which ended with a deflecting off Li Kee Ji into the back of Birighitti’s net. Second half begins, and Newcastle handed Roy Krishna a chance to give the Phoenix the lead, but was stopped when Birighitti pulled off a great stop. In all honesty it was a terrible penalty. 71st minute the Jets had hit the lead once again when a beautifully lofted cross from Carney fell at the feet of Milos Trifunovic who calmly put it past Glenn Moss. Soon after new Captain Nigel Boogaard saw red, receiving a second yellow for a very unnecessary challenge leaving the official no choice but to send him.

Scott Miller’s men looked to be revitalised with a clear style of play that they want to play this season, although they still looked very shaky at the back at times. Defensively, last year Newcastle were terrible, in shambles for the most part of the season, but for the most part if this match they looked positive in defence. Cutting out the little niggly fouls is a must that Miller must address going into this week, last week Newcastle conceded a whopping 27 fouls, and quite frankly they were probably lucky to have only received 3 yellows. Playing out from the back, they did not look at all confident although as they will become more confident with their play and playing out from the back will be a lot more effective. For the first time in years, there was a midfield that held its’ shaped and worked as a unit. It was great to see the midfield moving as one as it really just showed where our strength was going to be this year. Continuing that work will be vital going up against Sydney this weekend. 

Before I move on, must point out individual performances. First of all Birighitti, has a superb game and I think staked his claim to hold the number 1 spot for the next few weeks, made a couple of great saves along with the penalty save, Milos Trifunovic and Leonardo, our two imports both had impressive runs in their debuts and I expect another decent performance from these two on Saturday and finally David Carney. I personally dislike Carney as a player, but that aside he did play well last week, his header which was his first A-League goal since 2006, yes you read that correct 2006, opened the scoring, and when his cross floated over onto Trifunovic’s foot I couldn’t believe that he was playing well. He looked very good going forward creating opportunities for our players to get a shot off or lay it off for better positioned players.

Only thing I didn’t like about his game last week, which was a recurring factor in last season before he was sacked, was the fact that he tracks back to about the half way line and stops. He seems to just walk around without a care which frustrates me watching having a midfielder going all out attacking but not putting in when it comes to defending. There were a few times where he was walking back to position which shouldn’t be acceptable. Apart from this though he played quite well and was one of our best on the day.

Changes for this week, obviously Captain Nigel Boogaard will be out suspended this week which will likely see Ben Kantarovski move into the centre defensive role. If it is not Kanta that moves back it will more than likely see Themba Muata Marlow make his debut for the club. Li Kee Ji is also likely to miss this weekends match due to a calf injury, it is yet to be known if he will miss an extended period due to the injury. Also this week we will obviously need a new captain, personally I have no idea who gets it, because I am not sure who is a part of the leadership group, as long as David Carney doesn’t walk out with the arm band.

 Sydney FC got off to a solid start last week in what was a good showing by the sky blues against a resurgent Melbourne City side. Sydney went behind early on in the match but that was not going to phase Arnold’s men, who hit back just after half time through Filip Holosko finishing a cross at the back stick. Sydney could’ve taken the lead a number of times if it weren’t for a number of fantastic saves from Sorensen in City’s net. Sydney will go in to this match with confidence after the solid performance that they put in last week having 100% of shots on target, despite only scoring one they will be looking to show their full attacking potential this weekend against Newcastle.

Keegan's Tip: 2-0 Sydney FC
Alex's Tip: 2-1 Newcastle
Ty's Tip: 2-1 Sydney FC

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Whether you love, hate or have indifferent feelings towards the two Melbourne sides, it is 100% guaranteed that you will be tuning in to this week’s huge Melbourne Derby. Defending Champions Victory didn’t hit the ground running like they would have like to, but a goalless draw against rivals Adelaide is a result where positives can be taken out of. Despite only creating 11 goal scoring opportunities, Victory's on target ratio from that will be one of concern for Muscat. Having 11 shots with only 2 being on target is not the strike rate that we have come accustomed to over the past few seasons. 

Also a concerning point for Muscat is his strikers and wingers in ability to stay on side, racking up 8 offsides. Going into this match having won 7 on the 16 Melbourne Derby’s (Including when City were Heart) and Victory will look from the beginning to push on and make City play early and not let them settle into the match.

City begun their campaign with a good battle with Sydney FC. City hit the lead 16 minutes in through a Wade Dekker goal who finished calmly past Vedran Janjetovic. Although the lead was slashed just after half time as Sydney slotted one past Sorensen. City looked defensively sound throughout the match winning 94% of the tackles they went in for, they were also helped by their import Thomas Sorensen showing why he has spent so many years playing in the Premier League with some outstanding saves in crucial moments of the game. Going up against fierce rivals, City will want to start quick and control the game from the outset, using their experienced players to help guide them through the occasion.

As a neutral to this match, I can’t wait for this match, with 30000 tickets already sold as of Wednesday it is lining up to be a great match between to the two rivals. Personally I have tipped this be the same match up as this year’s Grand Final and I truly believe City will get the upper hand this week.

Keegan's Tip: 1-0 City
Alex's Tip: 2-2 Draw
Ty's Tip: 2-1 Victory

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Brisbane kicked off season 11 with a bang, scoring 3 in the opening 45 minutes of the season, in what was a solid performance from the Roar. A Jamie Maclaren double and 1 from Daniel Bowles was enough to seal the 3-1 victory. 

Roar were either going to be very good or very bad last weekend against Western Sydney and it was unknown how they would cope with all the off-field dramas that have plagued the club during the off season and with new boss John Aloisi taking charge of his first match it was unclear whether Roar would have a set style of play that they would be able to execute. These questions were all answered in the first half, with the Aloisi brothers (John and Ross) style of play effectively working and running over the top of a very weak Wanderers side. If this can continue this week they will be very hard to defeat at home.

Central Coast had a good first hit out against Perth Glory in week one of Season 11. Going ahead after 9 minutes through a very scrappy play inside of the Perth penalty area, but it was Roy O’Donovan who was awarded the goal. Soon after Mariners had thrown away the lead, leaving Richard Garcia free at the back post who was more than happy to slot the free header past Liam Reddy. Mariners were able to capitalise on some woeful defending in the second half as they were awarded two penalties given Fabio Ferrira the opportunity to put Mariners in the lead and then extend that lead, which he did successfully putting his team ahead 3-1. Whilst Perth were able to get one back it they weren’t going to get back into the match. 

Last Saturday saw an outstanding performance from Mariners goal keeper Liam Reddy who was a key figure in keeping Central Coast in the match and holding on to their lead, and he will need to be on his game again if they are to come out of this match with all 3 points.

Keegan's Tip: 2-2 Draw
Alex's Tip: 1-1 Draw
Ty's Tip: 2-1 Brisbane

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The most pointless derby in football takes place this week as Perth Glory take on the Wellington Phoenix. Last week Perth were the victims of their own stupidity really, as two unforgiving challenges were made inside the penalty area gifting Central Coast the opportunity take the lead and they did so without any worries. Whilst Perth did look like a good side for parts of the match they also looked terrible in defence at times. In particularly the Mariners first goal, the two penalties that were awarded and the arm flapping performance from Ante Covic roughly half way through the first half. Although as Kenny Lowe said there were plenty of positives to come away from the match and heading back home to Western Australia, Perth will look to kick start their season in front of their home crowd.

Wellington didn’t get off to the start their season off the way they would have liked to have, losing to a Jets squad with a terrible record in New Zealand. Phoenix looked an ordinary side last week compared to the side that made the final series. All over the field the Phoenix looked slightly shaky, especially going forward in attack. Attacking play was nowhere near as fluid as we had come accustomed to, without the likes of Cunningham, Boyd and Burns the Phoenix were never going to be as strong as they were although I did expect a lot more from them. Wellington dominated large parts of this match, in particularly in the second half before the Jets scored their second goal. I agree with Ernie Merrick’s comments that Wellington probably deserved something out of this match as they did dominate for large portions although defensively they did look a little lost at times and attacking they lacked quality in the front third. Flying across the other side of Australia, Wellington will look to upset their not so fierce rivals and get their season on track with a confidence building win.

Keegan's Tip: 2-1 Perth
Alex's Tip: 3-1 Perth
Ty's Tip: 2-1 Perth

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