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Kicking us of in Round 21 we have an all-in Sydney Derby. The Sky Blues are coming of a 3-0 win and the Wanderers a 5-2 victory. They hate each other. They despise each other. And they would love nothing more then to get a one up over their fierce rivals. What a way to start a thrilling round of A-League excitement, glory and despair.
Next up is the Jets vs the Glory. The Jets have picked up their form since the departure of former manager Ernie Merrick. While the Glory are the 2nd best team in Australia at the moment. That + O’Donovan facing off against Fornaroli will make this an absolute banger to watch.
Then with the Victory facing the Reds, we have the A-League’s most original Derby at hand. Both sides are desperate for a win to give their season a good boost. And they both have it all to play for in this one. Expect an amazing, yet heated spectacle of A-League Football.
Then the Mariners will feel like they have a fair chance of stealing a win of a struggling Western United side. Both sides suffered defeats last round, but the Mariners were so much more composed and classy in theirs. Maybe an upset will be on the cards.
Then to end the round, it’s City hosting the Roar. Both sides love a good goal. Both sides are on track to make the finals. And both sides play quality Football. This is one not to be missed either.
Bring it on!
Friday, 28th of February, 2020
Sydney FC vs Western Sydney Wanderers
Venue: Jubilee Stadium | Start: 8:00PM
Sydney FC – Tilio and Van der Saag stole the show late on against the Central Coast last round. Tilio scored his debut A-League goal, in his debut A-League appearance, literally one minute after he had been subbed on (89th minute strike). Then another former Sydney youth product and youngster, banged one into the back of the net two minutes after him, in the Sky Blues 3-0 victory (Van der Saag). Ninkovic also scored in the 8th minute with a fine effort of his own. It now means that Sydney, from 16 games this season, have won 14, drawn 1 and lost 1. They are on 43 points, 13 clear of 2nd placed Perth and with a game in hand! Their campaign so far has been nothing short of remarkable. The game wasn’t without it’s controversy though, as the Mariners were denied a goal via the VAR due to a shove in the box from one of their own. Overall, Sydney owned 49% of the ball throughout the game and shot 4/9 on target. They also completed 83% of their passes, which was good for 382/461. This was a classy, classy performance from Steve Corica’s men, as they turned it on late on in the match.
Western Sydney Wanderers – For the Wanderers, their season is well and truly alive, after they thumped Adelaide 5 goals to 2 at home last round. The emphatic result has left them in 7th on the ladder, just 5 points of a finals appearance. They still have everything left to compete for in this campaign. They’ve won 6/17 games and are on 21 points as things currently stand. Duke scored a double in the 27th and 38th minutes of the game, in what were his 8th and 9th goals of the season. Schwegler opened the scoring in just the 5th minute, Muller had one in the 25th minute and Cox found the back of the net in the 73rd minute. This was a simply awesome performance from the Red & Black. They had 44% possession of the ball and shot 10/24 on target + they had a shot come of the woodwork. They also completed 73% of their passes, which was good for 255/349. They’ve definitely set the tone for what should be an insane Derby come Friday night.
Past History – Sydney have won 11 of the past 18 Derbies that they have contested against Western Sydney. As far as A-League rivalries go, this one is pretty one-sided. However, earlier this season at Bankwest Stadium, the Red & Black have so far been the only team able to beat the Sky Blues this campaign, as they won 1-0. Duke scored what was the games only goal in the 19th minute. And the Wanderers won, despite only owning 33% of the ball and going 2/10 on target, in what was a somewhat controversial affair. The match prior to that one, was an entertaining 1-1 draw at ANZ Stadium. Brosque opened the scoring in the 7th minute for the Sky Blues. That before former Wanderer and now Sydney player, Baumjohann, scored the equalizer in the 57th minute. These two sides always give it their all when playing one another, that’s for sure.
Key Player – Ninkovic. The marquee man will be crucial to his sides hopes of beating the Wanderers on Friday night. He scored a goal against the Mariners last round and is well rested having been omitted from Sydney’s ACL squad. On the season he has 3 goals + 2 assists. And overall he has 16 shot assists. Baumjohann will need time to get back into it, as this wiil be his first game back from a suspension against his former side. While A-League and ACL commitments might weigh hard on some of his teammates. This is where the man affectionately nick-named Ninko, will have to be as big and as creative as ever. He’s gotten the job done countless times before and there’s nothing to suggest that he won’t here either.
Head to Head: Sydney
Over/Under 2.5: Over
Both Teams Score: Yes
Saturday, 29th of February, 2020
Newcastle Jets vs Perth Glory
Venue: Hunter Stadium | Start: 5:00PM
Newcastle Jets – The Jets in their last outing came away with a respectable 1-all draw with fellow A-League cellar-dwellers the Victory. It was their 6th draw of the campaign, as they are currently on 15 points now. They are in 10th place and 2 points ahead of 11th. But they’re still a massive 11 points of 6th place. The rest of the season for them now will be all about putting some respect back onto their badge. Something that they’ve already started doing. They scored the opening goal via O’Donovan in the 24th minute, but conceded the next in the 49th minute. That was big Roy’s 1st goal since his return to the Hunter Valley. Hoolahan also made his debut for the Jets in this one, after his side-line spell. In some positive signs for him, he had 1 shot assist and completed 21 passes, good for an accuracy rate of 81%. Newcastle overall, owned 65% of the ball and shot just 3/14 on target + they had a shot bounce of the woodwork. They also completed 83% of their passes, which was good for 467/563.
Perth Glory – Perth were undone late by Brisbane for the second time this season, as they drew 1-all last round. First it was O’Donovan who shocked them, now it was Gillesphey, as he scored the 85th minute equalizer for Brisbane. Fornaroli scored the opener for the Glory in the 33rd minute, with what was his 11th of the season. They had 44% possession of the ball and shot 6/11 on target during the game. They also completed a strong 85% of their passes, which was good for 414/488. This has left them in 2nd on the ladder, with 13 points. They are = on points with both the City and Phoenix. And they’re 13 of 1st placed Sydney FC. Of the field, the supposed sale of the club has taken yet another twist and turn. Reportedly no sale of the club has been finalized yet. Current Perth owner Tony Sage came out publicly and said so himself recently. This is an issue that must be sorted out ASAP for the sake of all those who work at the Glory, from the players, to the coaches, to the media team, EVERYONE! Let them know that the club will be safe, or make a public statement about it. They might be 2nd, but it’s far from fun times at the Glory at the moment, at least of the field anyways.
Past History – The Glory have won 5 of their past 6 games that they’ve played against the Jets. And the last game they played got pretty ugly indeed! Playing at home, the Glory smashed them to the tune of 6 goals to 2. Castro scored twice for Perth (15th and 83rd minutes), as did Fornaroli (58th and 70th minutes). Kilkenny (33rd minute) and Chianese (46th minute), also scored for the Glory that day. Newcastle’s two goals came via Topor-Stanley (26th minute) and Ugarkovic (51st minute). Perth shot 8/12 on target that game and Newcastle, 5/12 on target. Before that it was a 1-1 draw at Hunter Stadium in a crazy affair. Hoffman scored first in the 31st minute. Castro then scored a late equalizer in the 86th minute. Literally a minute later, Grant was sent of with the red card. All of this ensued a simply hectic finish to the game.
Key Player – Fornaroli. Ikonimidis is injured and Castro is ageing. Perth’s attack is his if he wants it. And his 11 A-League goals this campaign certainly shows that he wants it! He also has 2 assists to his name. And he has more goals then the likes of all of Davila, Toivonen and Berisha so far this season. He has been a massive, massive part of why Perth are currently 2nd in the standings. And the Jets have a horrific GD of -17. He should pounce against the struggling side and pounce hard he will. Expect the prolific goal-scorer to have a massive impact in the outcome of this game, which should be an easy Glory victory. Bruno the man, it’s onto you.
Head to Head: Perth
Over/Under 2.5: Over
Both Teams Score: No
Melbourne Victory vs Adelaide United
Venue: Marvel Stadium | Start: 7:30PM
Melbourne Victory – The Victory continued their stuttering form as they drew 1-all with the Jets last round. This has left them stranded in 9th spot on the ladder, with 17 points to their name. As things currently stand, they are a big 3 wins and 9 points out of 6th spot. They have won just 4/18 matches and are only 4 points of the bottom of the ladder. It’s getting quite messy in Melbourne at the moment. And only compounding things are the fact that City are equal 2nd at the moment. Double-whammy for them! Up in Newcastle, they conceded the opening goal of the game in the 24th minute. But in the 49th minute, Toivonen scored to even things up and that is how things stood for the remainder of the game. That was the prolific attackers 10th goal of the campaign. Impressive considering how crappy his side (relatively speaking) has been around him. The Victory owned just 35% of the ball, yet they still managed to shoot 4/10 on target. They also completed 71% of their passes, which was good for 215/303.
Adelaide United – On a Friday night in Parramatta last round, Adelaide were put to the sword, as they were thrashed 5 goals to 2 by the Wanderers. McGree scored in the 13th minute and Halloran in the 22nd, in the three-goal defeat. Despite having 56% possession of the ball throughout the game, the Reds shot a very, very shoddy 3/17 on target. In a low expectations kind of way, it’s almost impressive that they managed to score from 2 of their 3 on-target shots. But pretty crap overall! They also completed 79% of their passes. That was something that was good for 334/425. In all fairness to Adelaide, they have a pretty big casualty ward at the moment and they were forced to play a lot of young guys. It was their 9th loss of the season from 18 games. They also have 9 wins and 0 draws. They are the only side this season in the A-League to have not drawn a game at least once. They are in 5th on 27 points. That puts them 2 wins clear of the 7th placed Wanderers.
Past History – When these two original A-League rivals meet, they simply never fail to disappoint. However, the Reds have gotten the better of the Victory in their past 4 affairs, winning all 4 of them. The scores have been 1-0, 3-1, 1-0 and 2-0. The latest 1-0 affair was played in Adelaide, where Halloran scored the only goal of the game in the 32nd minute. They owned 52% of the ball, yet shot only 5/25 on target! + They had a shot bounce of the woodwork. Before that, the 3-1 affair, saw McGree score twice and Maria once. Toivonen was the sole goal-scorer for Melbourne in that one.The possession was split evenly at 50% each. Adelaide shot 6/23 on target, as they had a shot hit the woodwork. And the Victory went a much worse 2/5 on target, as they were dominated by Adelaide in that one.
Key Player – Blackwood. The 22 year old is far from a finished product, but he also needs to become more clinical with his chances. Earlier this season, he missed a late chance to convert a spot-kick, which would’ve given his side a draw. And last round in his sides thrashing, he shot 0/3 on target. He also won only 1/3 aerial duels, among a few other less then desirable stats. He’s good, but he needs to get better. And he needs to do more for his side, especially considering the injury crisis that they are suffering from at the moment. He needs to be a big boy now. But only time will tell as to whether or not he’s able to live up to the task.
Head to Head: Melbourne
Over/Under 2.5: Over
Both Teams Score: Yes
Sunday, 29th of February, 2020
Western United vs Central Coast Mariners
Venue: GMHMBA Stadium | Start: 4:00PM
Western United – They were outclassed, dominated and smashed. Call it what you want, but it was most definitely not an impressive performance from Mark Rudan and his men, in his return to New Zealand. His side went down 2-0 in what was a from start-to-finish one-sided affair. They conceded goals in the 29th and 90th minutes of the match and to be frank, it should have been a 5-0, a 6-0 or even perhaps a 7-0 game. The Phoenix shot 9/21 on target, had 2 shots hit the woodwork and owned 55% of the ball! In comparison, the away side shot just 2/5 on target, with 45% possession of the ball overall. They did however in a small positive, complete 83% of their passes, which was good for 364/436. Before the game it was announced that they had signed A-League veteran Lustica on a season and a half deal. The former Wanderer put in a mixed-bag performance, as he completed 94% of his passes (34 accurate passes), but also won only 1/9 duels. But he should prove to be an astute signing, that will be of a definite help to the club, as they seek to play A-League Finals Football, in their first season of existence. Currently they’re 8th on the ladder on 21 points. They are 5 points of the 6th placed Brisbane Roar.
Central Coast Mariners – For the Mariners, they were haunted by Sydney FC’s youth last round. Tilio scored a minute after he came on, in what was his A-League debut (89th minute goal) and he also assisted der Saag’s goal two minutes later. In what was another goal to another youngster on the books at the Sky Blues. They had also previously conceded the games opening goal in just the 8th minute, as they went down 3-0 to a much more classier and much more composed side. There was some controversy as they were disallowed a goal to the VAR, due to them ruling on a shove from one of their own players, as the Mariners quickly after put the ball back into the net. Stajcic was not happy with the ruling, as he was caught calling it “bullsh*t” on the Fox Sports cameras not long after the ruling had been made. But the young Mariners played well for most of the match and probably didn’t deserve to be blown out so late into the game. The owned 51% of the ball overall and shot just 2/9 on target. They also completed a strong 84% of their passes, something which was good for 397/473. They are currently last on the ladder, on just 13 points.
Past History – These sides have contested two affairs ever. The latest one saw W.U win 3-0 at GMHBA Stadium. And the one before that saw the Central Coast prevail 1-0 in a close game at Bluetongue Stadium. The 3-0 game saw Berisha bag a double (6th and 21st minutes) and a Rowles OG (18th minute), contribute to the score-sheet. W.U owned 45% of the ball and shot 6/11 on target. They also very unluckily had 2 shots hit the woodwork. The Mariners owned 55% of the ball, as they shot 4/19 on target. The two sides completed 82% and 86% of their passes. Something that was good for 337/410 and 395/457 respectively. In the opening 1-0 game, the sole goal came via Gallifuoco in the 49th minute. His side owned 47% of the ball, shot 3/8 on target and completed 83% of their passes. That being something that was good for 365/441 on target.
Key Player – Gordon. The Football leader made some crucial tackles last round against Sydney, as he attempted to keep them at bay. He is one of the few experienced heads at the Mariners and he’ll need to be big in defence again against W.U. This is a game that the Central Coast actually have a shot at winning. So it’s as crucial as ever that he, Tongyik, Eun-Sun and Birighitti are all cool, calm and collected at the back. But Gordon especially will be able to lead from the front and help out the others if need be. If the Mariners get something from this, their bald-headed hero will be a MASSIVE, MASSIVE, MASSIVE part of the reason as to why they were able to do so.
Head to Head: Central Coast
Half-time/Full-time: Central Coast/ Central Coast
Over/Under 2.5: Over
Both Teams Score: Yes
Melbourne City vs Brisbane Roar
Venue: AAMI Park | Start: 6:30PM
Melbourne City – City didn’t play last round due to the bye. So their last game before that was in RD19. There they suffered a 1-0 loss to Wellington, in a tightly contested game, at Eden Park. They conceded the games only goal in the 58th minute. City owned 44% of the ball overall, but still managed to somehow shoot an impressive 7/13 on target. Outside of that, they completed 78% of their passes. That is something that was good for 318/407. As things stand, they are currently equal 2nd (3rd) on the ladder. They are on 30 points, along with both Perth and Wellington. From 18 games so far, they’ve won 9, drawn 3 and lost 6. They are among the favorites to take out what would be a maiden A-League title this season. Only time will tell whether they are able to do so or not.
Brisbane Roar – For Brisbane, they are currently in 6th spot on the table. They are on 26 points, 5 ahead of both Western Sydney and Western United respectively (7th and 8th). They have won 7, drawn 5 and lost 6 so far. And most recently, they kept their strong momentum going, as they drew 1-1 all with Perth, in front of a boisterous crowd at Redcliffe. And they yet again, for the second time this campaign, scored a late equalizer against Perth. O’Donovan did it first. And now Gillesphey did it, as he scored in the 85th minute, much to the delight of the home-crowd. That secured the awesome come-from-behind point for Robbie Fowler’s men. They owned 56% possession of the ball overall throughout the match. But they shot just 2/11 on target throughout. They did however complete a great 87% of their passes. Something that was worth 532/609! Truly a crazy stat!
Past History – These two sides love a tasty and entertaining affair. Their past 4 score-lines have been, 2-2, 4-3 to Brisbane, 4-1 to Melbourne and 1-0 to Melbourne. The latest 2-2 draw was played up at Suncorp Stadium. There the Roar scored through Inman twice in the 34th and 48th minutes of the match. City’s goals came though Noone in the 39th minute and Atkinson in the 48th. Despite only having 38% possession, the Roar still managed to shoot 4/7 on target. City with 62% of the ball, went a high 7/22. The two sides completed 76% and 86% of their passes. Something that was good for 315/416 and 610/707 respectively. And in the 4-3 victory, it was crazy times as both O’Donovan and Maclaren scored 3X goals each for their respective sides. + Amadi-Holloway also banged one in for the Roar. Please oh please let a similar game ensue this time around.
Key Player – It’s difficult to go past O’Neil in this one. The former Mariner has definitely under performed to a certain degree this season as the Midfielder has 0 goals and just 2 assists to his name so far. His on-target shots are just 3 and off, 17!!! That is ugly to read. He needs to be doing better. And against a free-scoring City side, he’ll have no choice but to rectify his form ASAP if his Roar side want to be within a genuine chance at winning this thing. This is his time, but whether he can actually do it or not remains to be seen!!!
Head to Head: Brisbane
Half-time/Full-time: Brisbane/ Brisbane
Over/Under 2.5: Over
Both Teams Score: Yes