Round 18 of the A-League just passed us and we’re hours away from round 19. It’s quite mind-boggling stuff because this year’s A-League season is flying past us faster than ever. So, where do we stand after 18 rounds in you ask?
Well, Sydney FC have taken first place and have run with it with no signs of slowing down (don’t take this literally), second, third and fourth place have been switched around a few times between inconsistent Melbourne teams alongside Brisbane Roar, fifth and sixth place have also been on a rollercoaster between poor teams such as Western Sydney Wanderers, Perth Glory and Wellington Phoenix meanwhile the battle for the wooden spoon has been played out between Adelaide United and the Central Coast Mariners.
It has really been one of those seasons where pre-season training/fixtures, recruitment and mental toughness beats out any other ‘wannabe’ team. This is clear with Sydney FC who have gone 18 games unbeaten.
Graham Arnold has carved out a perfect team on paper to prepare himself for a successful 2016/17 campaign making several classy signings but most importantly retaining key players from moving overseas.
Sydney FC signed Brazilian talisman Bobo, Bernie Ibini, a tough and experienced centre-back in Buijis, Danny Vukovic and Michael Zullo but what is astounding is they have kept Holosko, Ninkovic, Carney, Dimitriyevic and Brosque for this season all vital players. They did lose Matthew Jurman mid-season which was tough but surprisingly not distracting.
Sydney FC had a poor season last year for their standard and the successes they are having today emulate what kind of club Sydney FC need to be for the future.
However, on paper the standings and stats overshadow the actual performances after the 90 minutes. Sydney FC are actually lucky in the sense news stories, coverage, fans’ passion override performances. We can’t argue the fact Sydney FC have been poor to watch this season but of course in the world of football results matter, however ugly, it’s the end result and that is exactly what Sydney FC are doing. They are getting results week after week. It may not be pretty but hey, they’re still carrying that ‘Invincible’ tag.
Sydney FC Wellington Phoenix tonight at home a fixture we should see the ‘invincibles’ take all three points.
Melbourne Victory started the 2016/17 season with great signings in wonder kid and New Zealand international Marco Rojas, German striker Beister, Donachie, Mitch Austin.
Melbourne Victory…the team that is literally behind Sydney FC but figuratively long away from them also have been up & down this season but as soon as Berisha, Troisi, Rojas found form they have never looked better and being drilled by Sergeant Muscat, they don’t look like slowing down either. Even though they have dropped points in six fixtures this season with draws and losses against the likes of Sydney FC, Perth Glory, Melbourne City and Wellington, they have since found scary form. Berisha the all time leading goal scorer, Troisi is finding the net, Rojas continues to dazzle us and the back-line looks solid but, before their loss to Wellington and then to Sydney FC on Australia Day, Melbourne Victory were cruising on a nine game unbeaten streak with Marcos Rojas on fire and James Troisi finding Asia Cup winning form add that to their recent dramatic Derby win against Melbourne City means their push in the last 10 fixtures will most certainly keep Sydney FC on their toes with the gap closing to nine points. They are however against their ‘bogy’ side in Newcastle Jets this week. A team that has given them trouble. A win away at Newcastle will most certainly cement their spot in second or even close the gap to six points if Sydney FC fail against Wellington tonight.
Brisbane Roar have really been the quiet achievers of the season. We all have been consumed with the ‘invincible’ story, Adelaide’s season, Melbourne City and so on that we forget to see that Roar are flying high in third after a great start to the campaign. Aloisi has put together a strong squad in the off-season, a squad come finals time will push other teams to their fullest as recently shown in that thoroughly entertaining 0-0 draw with Sydney FC.
The Roar are playing away against a battered Melbourne City, 72 hours are beating Shanghai Shenua in China for their Asian Champions League campaign. HUGE RESULT! It is a quick turnaround however this fixture could not have arrived at a better time with the changes imposed on Melbourne City’s squad will ultimately be exposed by Roar.
“Inconsistent” is the word that comes to mind for Melbourne City. They started the season with three wins on the trot to then a series of LWWLLWDWWDDLDDWLWLL a real series of unfortunate events between those and recent fixtures. It’s difficult to see why and how Melbourne City have found it difficult o continue their winning ways after claiming thei8r maiden FFA Cup in 2016. Dropping points against teams at the bottom half has hurt their title challenge along with losing former coach Jon Van’t Schip mid-season due to personal reasons.
In their last 10 fixtures they boast a record of 2-4-4, poor for their standards.
Melbourne City enter the round 19 battered. They will be missing; Tim Cahill, Luke Brattan, Fornaroli, Brandan, Malik and Muscat all due to suspension. In one way their upcoming fixture against Brisbane Roar who have a 72 hour turn around after their Asian Champions League win against Shanghai Shenua may be a blessing in disguise for City but, as menti0ned, the loss of key players will not be enough to get anything out of this game.
Where are the League champions Adelaide United you ask? well, they are in the fight for who will be crowned wooden spooners for the season. I don’t think I have seen a team take the Championship and finish last (lucky we don’t have promotion/relegation). However, what saves Adelaide United are the reasons behind their demise. The loss of key players in Goodwin, Djite, Pablo Sanchez, Stefan Mauk, Bruce Kamau have been huge and sadly have been abysmally substituted with poor transfers e.g Guardiola killing off any, if they ever had chances to repeat their success of last season.
Guillermo Amor has failed to get the best out of his players this season with Cirio, Isais, Carrusca failing produce the qualities we have seen in past seasons upfront as the team continues to look to someone to spark a revival.
(yes Adelaide United deserve their own paragraph because their downfall is too much for me)
The battle for sixth place keeps on getting interesting with five points separating fifth, sixth and seventh place. Western Sydney Wanderers, Newcastle Jets, Perth Glory (getting better as the season goes on) are all vying for this final finals spot teams who have really disappointed this season. This last spot is really a spot for mediocrity but hey that’s the A-League and its format and if we see a string of consistent performances from these teams at the other half of the table then maybe I can take that tag off them but until then.
Fixtures round 19:
Sydney FC v Wellington Phoenix (Thursday)
Adelaide United v Perth Glory (Friday)
Newcastle Jets v Melbourne Victory (Saturday)
Melbourne City v Brisbane Roar (Saturday)
Western Sydney Wanderers v Central Coast Mariners (Sunday)