Sydney FC continued their imperious lead this season with a 5-0 drubbing of Sydney rival Western Sydney Wanderers last weekend. Their on field performances continue to draw plaudits with many tipping the Sky Blues to become the best ever team in the history of the A-League.
Certainly coach Graham Arnold’s recruiting has received high praise and he has become a firm favourite for the Socceroos coaching job should the FFA opt for an Australian coach to take the team to Russia.
On the other side of the Harbour City, the Wanderers’ coach Josep Gombau is coming under increasing pressure to get results, and there is also mounting pressure on Victory coach Kevin Muscat to turn around an underachieving side.
Round 11 of the A-League kicks off on Friday night with third-placed Melbourne City the latest to challenge league leader Sydney FC which only looked to be strengthened by the returning Milos Ninkovic.
Saturday’s matches feature a triple-header kicking off with arguably the match of the day in Newcastle.
Newcastle Jets v Adelaide United, Saturday 16 December at 5.35 pm
Second-placed Jets host the fourth-placed Reds with both teams coming off 2-1 away wins last round against Perth Glory and Melbourne Victory respectively. The Reds showed great spirit to hang on for a 2-1 victory against Victory despite going down to nine men, however against the Jets they’ll be without suspended Ben Garruccio and midfielder Daniel Adlung. Coming into the squad will be Kristing Konstandopoulos and Apostolos Stamatelopoulos. For the Jets, Johnnie Koutroumbos may earn a start following his late equalising goal against Glory last week which set the visitors on a path to victory. The Jets have lost striker Roy O’Donovan to a groin injury and coach Ernie Merricks will again be looking for Nabbout and Dimi Petratos to provide the cutting edge.
Central Coast Mariners v Western Sydney Wanderers, Saturday 16 December at 7.50 pm
Fifth-placed Mariners host the ninth-placed Wanderers, with both teams coming off defeats last week. The Mariners could consider themselves unlucky to lose to a single Melbourne City goal given they had the majority of possession. Wanderers’ boss Gombau has recalled experienced strikers Oriol Riera and Mark Bridge whilst Mariners have also been boosted by the return from injury of playmaker Tom Hiariel, striker Felix Asdrúbal, and defender Storm Roux.
The Wanderers will be desperate to avoid a 10th straight match without a win.
Perth Glory v Wellington Phoenix, Saturday 16 December at 10.00 pm
Glory has lost four of their last five matches, a reflection of a terrible run with injuries. On Saturday night they host bottom of the table Phoenix in what is a meeting of the two teams with the worst defensive record in this year’s competition. Glory will be without strikers Keogh and Taggart but on the positive side, have star Diego Castro back, possibly starting this week. Phoenix also have their injury woes missing Krishna, Durante, Fox, and McGlinchey.
Brisbane Roar v Melbourne Victory, Sunday 17 December at 7.00 pm
Two sides on equal points separated by the narrowest of goal difference. Victory must make do without Socceroo Mark Milligan who is out with a hamstring injury. Coach Kevin Muscat has reached out to the department of youth this week, recalling Christian Theoharous, Stefan Nigro, and Josh Hope to the squad, while Roar coach John Aloisi recalls the experienced Thoma Kristensen and Ben Khalfallah to face his former club.