Now that the dust has settled from the feisty FFA Cup semi-final between City and Victory early in the week, attention turns to the fourth round of the A-League home and away season, into which three of the ten teams enter undefeated.
Sydney FC, with its perfect start to the season, heads the ladder, followed closely by Perth Glory, which upstaged early title favourite Melbourne City last week. Newcastle Jets is the only other undefeated team in the competition and it currently sits in fourth.
The last two opposition coaches to coach against Melbourne City have both fallen foul of officialdom. Glory’s Kenny Lowe has been given a two match suspension for his half-time spray at the officials, while Victory’s Kevin Muscat has been cited for a breach of the conduct code because of his public post-match comments about the refereeing in the Cup semi.
Tomorrow’s matches kick off in Newcastle.
Newcastle Jets v Sydney FC
Saturday 29 Oct, 5.35 pm
McDonald Jones Stadium
Both these teams are undefeated, although Sydney goes into this match with the more impressive record. The Jets were forced to stage a late fightback to grab a share of the points last week against Western Sydney Wanderers, while Sydney also scored late to snatch a winner away to a stubborn Wellington Phoenix, through a Milos Ninkovic goal. Paradoxically, in an age when controlling possession is considered a mantra by many coaches, Sydney has found a way to score more goals than anyone else, and to concede none, with the lowest share of possession in the league.
The history of this fixture heavily favours Sydney, which has won the last five times these two have met and hasn’t lost to the Jets in their last 10 encounters.
For the Jets to break this run, in- form keeper Jack Duncan will have to put in another fine shift to limit Sydney’s firepower, which includes former Jet David Carney.
Jets coach Mark Jones has been deploying a fast counterattacking style of football, but will be without speedster Andrew Nabbout, who is out for three weeks with a groin injury. Jets defender Nigel Boogaard is his side’s top scorer this season with two goals.
Western Sydney Wanderers v Central Coast Mariners
Saturday 29 Oct, 7.50 pm
Paul Okon’s Mariners travel down the Pacific in search of a first win of the season, but they’ll face a tough task against Tony Popovic’s Wanderers.
Under Okon they have attempted to play a possession-based brand of football, but have conceded more goals than any other team in the league this season. Last week’s 1-0 loss to Roar may have seemed like an attempt to address its defensive frailties. But it’s also at the other end where the team is struggling, not having scored in its last two matches. Okon will have a fitter Fabio Ferreira at his disposal in attack this week, while young Socceroo midfielder Liam Rose returns from international duty to give him options in the middle.
The Wanderers will be out to make amends for the late slip-up against the Jets. Some of the positives from that game were in the form of new signings, with defender Aritz Borda opening his account for his new club, and Japanese playmaker Jumpei Kusukami looking increasingly dangerous. Coach Popovic will be hoping for more from striker Bulut, who is yet to find the net this season.
Brisbane Roar v Perth Glory
Sunday 30 Oct, 5.00 pm
Although both teams go into this match on the back of away wins, the Glory will go in full of confidence after it captured the prize scalp of early season favourite Melbourne City last weekend, thanks to an Andy Keogh hat trick. Glory, if anything, will be strengthened by the return of marksman Adam
Taggart and defenders Shane Lowry and Rhys Williams, but will have to make do without suspended coach Ken Lowe.
The Roar bounced back from a capitulation to the Jets to record its first win of the season away to the Mariners last week thanks to a Thomas Kristensen winner. Coach Aloisi will be hoping for more from his forward pack of Maclaren, Broich, Oar and Borrello, who have yet to find the net this campaign.
Melbourne Victory v Wellington Phoenix
Monday 31 Oct, 7.50 pm
Monday night’s Cup eve match gives Melbourne Victory some much-needed recovery time following its intense FFA Cup semi-final loss to Melbourne City last Tuesday. Skipper Carl Valeri will miss the Phoenix match because of soreness, while playmaker James Troisi has been named in the squad but will surprise if he starts. Victory has also signed former German Youth International Maximillian Beister to give it more creativity in the middle however he won’t be available for this match. Coach Muscat will be hoping for improved supply to central striker Beshart Berisha.
Bottom side Phoenix is desperate for a goal, let alone a win, as it has yet to find the net in the first three matches. The match marks the first return to Melbourne of ex-Victory Championship winning players Barbarouses and Finkler, who have yet to find their feet in Phoenix colours.