Five things we learned this week in the A-League

Melbourne City’s first season could be a disaster

Even with David Villa in their line up, Melbourne City failed to win any of their first four A-League games this season.

The Spaniard has now departed the club, six games earlier than fans were lead to believe, and an expected replacement in the form of Australian international Josh Kennedy won’t arrive until January.

 

City actually took the lead on Friday night against Adelaide United when skipper Patrick Kisnorbo headed home a Damien Duff corner, but goals from Bruce Djite and Marcelo Carrusca propelled the South Australians to the top of the table.

While Adelaide are looking like serious contenders for the title this year, City’s failure to claim any points at home will worry their supporters.

With no Villa to lead the line, the team that were bizarrely made favourites to win the competition by some bookmakers are more likely to contest the wooden spoon.

Perth Glory are on the way to making nib Stadium a fortress again

Perth Glory were the most successful team in the National Soccer League, the competition that preceded the A-League, thanks in large part to a fanatical supporter group who made nib Stadium and intimidating place to come for opposition sides.

Crowds have dwindled in recent years though due to a lack of success and obvious direction from the powers that be, but there are now signs that the club is turning things around under coach Kenny Lowe.

 

Two goals in three minutes from super sub Jamie Maclaren saw them come from a goal down to beat the Newcastle Jets 2-1 on Saturday, the third time already this season that they have won from a losing position.

The win was also Glory’s fourth in a row at home, an A-League record for the club.

Last week they overcame Melbourne Victory 4-2 after extra time to reach the semi finals of the FFA Cup where they will fancy themselves against local league side Bentleigh Greens.

If things keep progressing the way they are then silverware may not be as far away as many predicted during the preseason.

Western Sydney Wanderers are surprising Asian Champions

Before this year’s Asian Champions League kicked off you would have gotten long odds on an Australian side emerging victorious, but the Western Sydney Wanderers did just that by beating Al Hilal over two legs in the final.

Holding a 1-0 lead from the first game at Parramatta Stadium, Tony Popovic’s side were resolute in defence and hung on for a 0-0 draw to win on aggregate in front of 70,000 spectators.

 

Veteran goalkeeper Ante Covic was superb, and claimed the award for the tournament’s best player, while the Saudi Arabian side were unfortunate not to be awarded at least one, and possibly three, penalties by Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura.

Nishimura is no stranger to controversy having given Brazilian striker Fred a dubious spot kick in the opening game of the World Cup against Croatia.

The Al Hilal players were less than pleased with the outcome in their own back yard, after their coach Laurentiu Reghecampf had guaranteed a win in the build up, and tempers flared at the end of the game.

Wanderers’ Matthew Spiranovic was on the receiving end of a head butt from Nasser Al-Shamrani, before the same player also spat at the Australian international.

With the dust now settled, the Wanderers’ achievement is a further endorsement of the A-League’s development in what is its tenth year.

Whatever happened in the game, I don’t really care anymore. We are the champions of Asia.

– Ante Covic

Sydney FC’s Terry Antonis looks ready to fulfill his potential

After a couple of very poor seasons, Sydney FC remain unbeaten this season and it’s probably little coincidence that the run of form has coincided with the strong performances of midfielder Terry Antonis.

Antonis, who won’t be 21 until the end of November, has finally recovered from a ruptured muscle in his thigh that kept him out for nine months, and he scored a superb half volley from 25-yards in the 2-0 win over the Central Coast Mariners on Sunday.

 

As a youngster, Antonis signed a five-year deal with Everton but that was voided by a rule preventing players move overseas until they turned 18.

In April 2012, he trialled with Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach, while a proposed move to Parma in Italy fell through.

Antonis has three full international caps to his name, a figure that will no doubt be added to if he maintains his current form.

Against the Mariners, Antonis dictated play alongside Milos Dimitrijevic as Sydney FC dominated the 2013 Champions and he would have had a second goal were it not for a clearance off the line.

Melbourne Victory have some serious strength in depth

Any team missing the quartet of Besart Berisha, Matthieu Delpierre, Daniel Georgievski and, to a lesser extent, Adrian Leijer, would be expected to struggle. Not Melbourne Victory though.

Kevin Muscat’s side were comfortable 2-0 winners over the Wellington Phoenix, overcoming a mix of injuries and suspensions incurred on the FFA Cup trip to Perth.

Into the starting eleven came Fahid Ben Khalfallah, Archie Thompson, Carl Valeri and youngsters Andrew Murnane and Rashid Mahazi but you wouldn’t have know there were so many changes as they comfortably saw off the Nix in front of 23,827 spectators at AAMI Park.

There was also impact off the bench, as Connor Pain found the net within seconds of being introduced for Ben Khalfallah on 67 minutes.

The four absentees are all expected to return to the squad this weekend for the trip to the Newcastle Jets, giving Muscat a good kind of selection headache.

Victory, many people’s tip to win the whole thing this season, now sit top of the table (on goal difference) after four games and will be expected to pick up another three points at Hunter Stadium.

Author Details

Neil Sherwin
Neil Sherwin

Co-editor of BackPageFootball.com. Writes mostly on Premier League and A-League with contributions to other sites including TheFootballSack, InBedWithMaradona and Bloomberg's BSports. Has featured on The Guardian's Football Weekly.

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