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Breanna Holden's Week 3 HAL Preview

by Breanna Holden on Oct 23, 2014

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Brisbane Roar v Sydney FC
Friday 24 October
Suncorp Stadium
Kick-Off: 7:00pm (local) (8:00pm AEDT)
Referee: Peter Green

Brisbane’s title defence has hardly gone as planned this campaign, going down two weeks in a row despite scoring first in both their opening fixtures. Mike Mulvey’s men have already conceded five goals and sit second last on the table with 0 points. Admittedly the absence of Matt McKay, through a red card suspension hasn’t helped the matter, but it must be said the Roar had better find their groove sooner rather than later or it could be an embarrassing 2014/15 season.

Last weekend against Perth, history was strongly in Brisbane’s favour and yet thanks to some Andy Keogh brilliance they left nib stadium with empty hands. This weekend Mulvey will be hoping his side can turn things around and capitalise on a strong home, and historical, advantage over the Sky Blues. With 12 wins from 27 encounters (6 wins and 21 goals in the past three seasons) the Roar should dominate this match, but it will likely come down to a matter of nerve; whether or not Brisbane can finish the match off or if once again they fall apart all too easily in the second 45.

Last round saw SFC manage one of the greatest derby victories at home against WSW. In front of a record breaking, sell out crowd at Allianz Stadium, the Sky Blues came from two goals down to beat their local rivals 3-2 and in doing so put themselves into equal 2nd with early title favourites Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United. Despite this impressive and character testing victory, mid-week saw Graham Arnold’s men fall 3-1 to Adelaide United in controversial circumstances in the FFA Cup quarter finals.

Heading to Brisbane SFC will undoubtedly be more confident than recent seasons, not only due to their form and clinical approach under Arnold but also thanks to the Roar’s shaky start.

That said there is still a lot of work to do for the traveling side, in particular in the defensive stocks. With Corey Gamiero firing at will up front, the Sky Blues manager will be turning his attention to a back line that has leaked 6 goals in 3 games and without suspended Nikola Petkovic the Roar will be keen to play on the away sides obvious instability at the back.

My Tip: Brisbane Roar
Brisbane losing twice was unforeseeable but three in a row is nearly unimaginable. As with any successful club losing key men, it will take time for the Roar to find their feet, but the bitter disappointment of last week’s loss and the addition of a home advantage should go a long way in inspiring the Roar to victory in Round 3; while the loss of Petkovic, plus a mid week fixture will likely take its toll on Arnold’s side.

Melbourne Victory V Melbourne City
Saturday 25 October
Etihad Stadium
Kick-Off: 7:30pm (local) (7:30pm AEDT)
Referee: Strebre Delovski

The Victory announced themselves as title contenders from the get go this season. In theory their Round 2 match with Adelaide was supposed to be a ‘clash of the Titans’, in reality however neither side was able to deal with a pacey pitch and Melbourne’s star players lacked motivation and a real ‘fear factor’.

Entering Saturday night’s derby, Victory fans can rest assured nothing will be left on the bench. Holding the upper hand in recent matches with City, and a significant home advantage (without a loss in 5) Kevin Muscat will be turning up the heat and expecting his men to pull of another glorious performance.

Gui Finkler will, as usual, be important for the home side’s midfield. With 97 touches and two assists so far this season, his work rate from the middle of the park often makes the difference for Melbourne. While up front the Blue and White Brigade will be hopeful Besart Berisha can make more of a threatening impact in front of Andrew Redmayne’s City goals.

Melbourne City seems to be learning the lesson of countless star-bearing A-League sides before them. The danger of basing the team around one man! The Villa factor is certainly something any club is jealous of, but after a busy off-season, high expectations and only two draws to show for it, many are starting to question just how City are using their skilful Spaniard. Last weekend Villa was again on target to save City from defeat, but their one minded attack seemed to stifle their midfield as well as Villa himself.

Coming up against a threatening Victory side, Melbourne City fans will be hoping John van ‘t Schip can organise his side into a united squad who use their talent across the pitch to break down The Victory and not just ‘get the ball to David Villa’.

With the last derby ending in an emphatic win for City and the away team having held their own in the past against Victory, a win certainly isn’t out of the question, especially if City come out the slicker side and rise to the hype.

My Tip: Melbourne Victory
Although playing the same ‘pass it to Villa’ tactic is ill advised for City, with news this week the Spaniard will begin duties for new club New York City earlier than expected, it is unlikely JVS will waste his talent by drastically changing his side’s play. This alone with the home advantage and a sense of maturity in their play, give the Victory a helping hand and could possibly gift them the win.

Western Sydney Wanderers v Central Coast Mariners
Postponed until Wednesday 19 November due to the Wanderers AFC Champions League final on Saturday evening at Pirtek Stadium, Parramatta.

 

Wellington Phoenix v Newcastle Jets
Sunday 26 October
Westpac Stadim
Kick-Off: 5:00pm (local) (3:00pm AEDT)
Referee: Chris Beath

Wellington were the surprise packet of last round, travelling to Gosford and leaving with a comprehensive 2-1 win, something any side should be proud of against a resilient Mariners outfit. Embracing the theory that a good offence is the best defence, Wellington has looked sharp in attack across the opening rounds.

Welcoming Newcastle to their shores in Round 3 the Nix will be looking to end a three game losing streak in New Zealand. Although against the Jets, Ernie Merrick’s men haven’t struggled in the past; Newcastle will be feeling confident after a decent 90 minutes against City.

Despite their defence being a little leaky, Wellington really has got an attack with all the potential to menace the league. New signings Michael McGlinchey, and Nathan Burns have slotted in alongside Jeremy Brockie with ease. With McGlinchey, already having two goals to his name; and Burns and Brockie sitting second and third respectively on the assist/chances table, the Nix must continue playing fluently up front and not become complacent at the back, if this success is to continue this round.

Travelling across the Tasman to Westpac Stadium, Newcastle won’t be favourites, but after giving the Central Coast a run for their money in Round 1 and holding their own, as well as the lead, away to Melbourne City last Sunday, The Jets will be determined to again prove their critics wrong. That said; there is still a lot of work to do for Phil Stubbins and his squad. Newcastle may have dominated the Nix last campaign with two wins and a draw (as well as an impressive seven goals in the process) but they haven’t managed an away win for four matches and have arguably the weakest attack in the league. It will be a struggle for them to capitalise on Wellington’s touch and go defence.

Further, Stubbins will need to work hard on the team’s disciplinary record if they have any real aspirations for the final series. In two matches the Jets have conceded 39 fouls and collected eight yellow cards, a record that if allowed to continue may push Newcastle’s depth later in the season. While against a physical Phoenix side, poor discipline could become a major characteristic of the match and what The Jets get out of it.

My Tip: Wellington Phoenix
Newcastle’s slow firing front line will be key in this fixture. If the Jets’ forwards don’t have a turn around in form, Wellington’s trio of Brockie, Burns and McGlinchey will likely lead The Nix to a runaway win.

Adelaide United v Perth Glory
Sunday 26 October
Coopers Stadium
Kick-Off: 4:30pm (local) (5:00pm AEDT)
Referee: Kris Griffiths Jones

In Round 2, Adelaide paid the price for switching off against a quality side, losing a hard fought one goal advantage in the dying minutes of their grudge match with Melbourne Victory.

Over the past nine seasons United have managed to slightly edge out Perth, particularly at Coopers Stadium. With first place on the line, Josep Gombau will be hoping this pattern continues and that The Reds pull out an important win against the 1st placed Glory.

Key for Adelaide on Sunday will be to ensure they play their own game and aren’t drawn in, and out of shape, by the goal scoring threat of Andy Keogh. Gombau has worked hard to stamp his attacking free-flowing game on United and as long as they stay true to their game plan they will push Perth and the rest of the league week in, week out.

Perth Glory has turned around their title as ‘The Worst Attacking Side’ in 2013/14 and came out of the blocks firing. Although their depth has been questioned, Kenny Lowe continued to build merit for his off-season attacking spree, as Perth came from behind to defeat The Champions, Brisbane Roar 3-2. In doing so they marked themselves, surprisingly, as genuine contenders this campaign.

Although history is important and their fixture this weekend has been close throughout the years, both sides are so strong that the past may well count for nothing here. Perth will do well to use their width and try to minimise the control Adelaide United can have across the middle of the pitch, allowing for more frequent and pacey counter attacks. Adelaide have multiple threats up front and from the centre of the pitch, making it integral to Lowe’s side to hold their own here if they expect to return to Western Australia with the points.

My Tip: Draw
With Adelaide the slickest team in the comp and Perth the strongest attack, expect a fast paced attacking encounter; where each side’s push forward, is met equally by their opposition. Although goals aren’t as common in this fixture as others this weekend, a high scoring draw may well be on the cards.