Newcastle Jets 1 Perth Glory 2
Sydney FC 2 Central Coast Mariners 0
Brisbane Roar 1 Melbourne Victory 1
Western Sydney Wanderers 2 Wellington Phoenix 1
Melbourne Heart 0 Adelaide United 2
And The Winner Is…
The A-League is heading into the final 3 rounds of the regular season. There plenty of spots up for grabs for teams looking to advance towards the finals with five teams in realistic contention for 5th and 6th place but the winner of the Premiere’s Plate may well have been decided this week when Central Coast Mariners unexpectedly slumped to their second defeat in a row, this time against Sydney FC. With the Western Sydney Wanderers winning a competition record ninth win in a row over luckless Wellington Phoenix, they are now 5 points clear and in the driver’s seat to win the league in their first year.
After leading the competition for twenty rounds, its hard not to feel for Mariner’s coach Graham Arnold, the perennial bridesmaid in Australian football who came within one game of leading the Socceroo’s to World Cup qualification for 1998 World Cup and has since seen his side finish second in three Grand Finals. It’s also the second season in a row where his side has lead the A-League during the regular season only to have a dramatic slump in form during the last few games. Having a talent raid of his best players every January obviously doesn’t help. This year he lost striker Tom Rogic to Celtic.
The Wanderers are obviously the form team leading into the finals and must be favourites to reach the Grand Final. Every team below them seem wildly inconsistent in their form and it seems a lottery as to who they will face.
Not With A Roar But A Squeak
Brisbane Roar‘s draw at home to Melbourne Victory isn’t enough to spoil the season but it means that if they are to finish in the top six, they will have to squeak past Newcastle or Sydney with Perth and Melbourne Heart breathing down their necks. The side has consolidated their form in recent weeks and have only lost one from six. The defensive holes from the start of the season seem well and truly plugged with newcomers Matthew Donachie and Jade North looking solid in the back. Now attention turns to the attack which has been uncharacteristically wasteful. The Roar are still getting goals from Besart Berisha but he needs someone to keep up with him. New midfielder Stefan Nijland is yet to break his duck and Mitch Nichols is on a cold streak. If Henrique were to return into the side full time or if Thomas Broich could rediscover his goal scoring form then the Roar would be a very different proposition in the finals.
3 games to go and all to play for.