Breanna Holden's Week 6 HAL Preview

by Breanna Holden on Nov 15, 2014

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It's another big weekend in the A-League, headlined by the Big Blue between Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory, Breanna Holden previews the remaning games of Round 6.

Adelaide United v Wellington Phoenix
Saturday 15, Coopers Stadium
Kick-Off: 4:30pm local (5:00pm AEDT)
Referee: Strebre Delovski

Adelaide United back up from their mid-week FFA Cup victory over the Mariners as they take on an in form Wellington Phoenix. Although their 3-2 Cup win certainly wasn’t easy the Reds the match, played out on home soil, will have simply added wind to their sails in preparation for another tough match.

Facing the Phoenix Josep Gambau’s side have enjoyed success and goals a plenty, particularly on home soil, bagging a whopping 11 goals in their last three matches against the Nix at Coopers Stadium. While additionally United lead the league in average shots per game so far this season giving Adelaide fans high expectations for another successful outing on Saturday.

With none of their players away on International duty and both Fabio Ferreira and Pablo Sanchez returning from injury United’s squad should be at reasonable strength meaning the only real concern for Reds fans will be the fitness of those players heading into their third match in a week.

Wellington pushed past a resilient Western Sydney Wanderers defence last round to lift themselves into 5th place and just three points off league leaders Perth Gory. Despite the Wanderers yet again lacking any real firepower up front the Nix showed character in breaking down a back line boasting two Socceroo defenders.

This weekend the Nix have a much harder task not only facing a confident Adelaide attack but doing so without a host of players including Jeremy Brockie and Michael McGlinchey, two of their three standouts so far this season.
A lot of the goal scoring pressure will now fall on Nathan Burns who alongside Kenny Cunningham will aim to break Wellington’s poor run of form at Coopers Stadium.

My Tip: Adelaide United
Wellington’s defence have stepped up to the plate this season despite a lot of criticism prior to round one. However; their success so far comes down mainly to the creativity of their front third and hard work across the middle of the pitch and with several of their starting XI missing this round they will struggle to out play Adelaide away from home.

Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory
Saturday 15, Allianz Stadium
Kick-Off: 7:30pm local (7:30pm AEDT)
Referee: Peter Green

Sydney FC back up from one blockbuster clash to another as they prepare for the first ‘Big Blue’ of the campaign following a tiring 0-0 draw with Adelaide United last weekend. Although the best chance of the game came (and was controversially denied) to Sydney FC the Sky Blues were hardly an attacking threat throughout the match and for the first time this season weren’t able to get a hold on the match.

Following that performance coach Graham Arnold will have spent the week looking to inspire and re-ignite FC particularly given the usual nature of their clashes with the Victory. That said with the squad missing a host of integral men thanks to the FIFA International Round and drama surrounding the availability of Terry Antonis the Sky Blues may be less settled than Arnold would have liked when they take to the pitch this Saturday.

The match will be a test of character and of Sydney’s younger attacking players. Although Melbourne are the hardest hit side in terms of national duty their back line still boasts substantial quality. If the Sky Blues want to take an outright lead in the league they’ll need to make sure their youthful squad members stay calm under pressure.

Melbourne Victory failed to capitalise on an opportunity to break away from Adelaide and Sydney FC last round as they fell to two goals against Newcastle. While the Victory did comeback to draw the match 2-2 a dominant first half display from the Jets highlighted weaknesses in the squad.

Travelling to Allianz Stadium this Saturday Melbourne will be looking not only to get back to winning ways but also to break a run of terrible form away against the Sky Blues – with the Victory only managing one win from their last ten in NSW.

Despite their less than impressive record in this half of the fixture recently Kevin Muscat has a ‘secret weapon’ on his side that previous Melbourne squad’s didn’t. Besart Berisha. The former Roar striker will certainly play a key role in the match and may just be Sydney FC’s undoing considering the league’s top goal scorer has managed four in his last five against this weekend’s hosts.

My Tip: Sydney FC
With this fixture by far the hardest hit by the Socceroos and various other national teams the match could take on a more ambitious and quite possibly messy nature with several younger players out to prove themselves. With that in mind Sydney have shown more squad depth thus far this season and with more than enough quality remaining on the harbour side Arnold’s side should finish up the 90 minutes the better.

Perth Glory v Western Sydney Wanderers
Saturday 15, nib Stadium
Kick-Off: 6:45pm local (9:45pm AEDT)
Referee: Shaun Evans

Perth Glory returned to the top of the table last weekend after their successful trip east to the Mariners. After nine seasons of disappointments on the Central Coast the Glory managed to turn their fate around and travel back to Western Australia with their first ever win against the Coasties.

With that monumental win and mid-week progression into the first ever FFA Cup final, a deservedly confident Perth side will look to continue breaking records as they chase their first ever win over the Western Sydney Wanderers this Saturday. Despite a busy week and the absence of players due to International Duty Kenny Lowe and his Glory side will certainly be anticipating their first ever victory over an out of sorts Wanderers side.

With Western Sydney’s squad looking down and out following yet another defeat last round it would be easy for Perth to over look the Red and Black’s quality. However; just like Brisbane Roar the Wanderers boast a lot of decent players and if Perth aren’t respectful of that they could see themselves in trouble.

The Wanderers may have travelled to New Zealand last weekend as the Champions of Asia, but following their third defeat this campaign their trip to Western Australia sees them joint bottom of the table. Yet again unable to find a goal scorer Tony Popovic’s men where lucky to not end the match with a 2-0 loss thanks to a McGlinchey shocker from the penalty spot.

Entering into this fixture things will be much the same up front with goal providing duties falling to Tomi Juric, Labinot Haliti and Mark Bridge primarily. All of whom are proven goal scorers and will be in for a tough week on the training pitch should they fail to find the ball in the back of the net. At the back however things will be more complicated for Popovic who is forced to field his fourth central defence paring in just as many matches thanks to Nikolai Topor-Stanley’s Socceroos call up.

My Tip: Draw
Mitch Nichols has been one of the league’s standout performers this season and will certainly be sorely missed by the Glory attack and while Andy Keogh can most likely manage on his own the home side’s attack will undoubtedly be less fluid. Meanwhile the Wanderers have shown they are a side who enjoy it when their backs are against the wall and with the AFC Champions League firmly in the rear vision mirror and just one player missing from last round’s set up they should challenge the Glory.

Melbourne City v Central Coast Mariners
Sunday 16, AAMI Park
Kick-Off: 5:00pm local (5:00pm AEDT)
Referee: Adam Fielding

Melbourne City got on with life without David Villa seamlessly, posting their first win of the new season seeing off Champions Brisbane Roar 3-1 at Suncorp Stadium. City showcased John van ‘t Schip’s vision for the team in a united, fluid display of football.

This weekend they look to grab their first home win of the campaign as they face the Central Coast, another side in serious need of three points. Despite the Mariners lacklustre perforamnces thus far City still face what will traditionally be a difficult 90 minutes – with the side registering just one win in the fixtures last 12 encounters.

With key man Aaron Mooy missing from Melbourne’s line up this weekend Mate Dugandzic and Massimo Murdocca will have to work hard to fill the gap left by Mooy’s call up to the national team. Although Mooy has been an integral kog in City’s creativity this season JVS has more than enough quality in his side to ensure goal scoring opportunities throughout the 90.

Contrary to their opposition this weekend the Mariners have had a week to forgot. Central Coast in round five fell to the Glory on home soil for the first time in their history then backed up with another disappointing loss – this time to United in the FFA Cup semi-final.

In a week with little positives Phil Moss will be encouraged by his sides two goals in the FFA Cup, putting to bed doubts over the Central Coast’s ability to move on from the loss of both Bernie Ibini and Michael McGlinchey. That said the Mariners have still only managed the one goal in the league this season and, with the exception of Mitch Duke, have a lot of work to do in terms of creating and capitalising on chances.

This will be the pivotal factor in Coasties performance and result this weekend. If they continue to fall apart in the final third or place too much pressure on Duke Melbourne City will dominate play and prey of any defensive errors.

My Tip: Melbourne City
Although the Mariners did find the back of the net mid-week their issues up front don’t seem likely to change over night, especially given only one of their squad has managed more than two shots on target this season. Further in favour of a City win is Central Coast’s defensive record with the NSW side leaking five goals in their last three A-League matches and four in just the past week.